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Front Hum Neurosci. 2014 Jul 1;8:462. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00462. eCollection 2014.

Deficient approaches to human neuroimaging.

Author information

1
Department of Neurophysics, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences Leipzig, Germany ; Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance, Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre Hvidovre, Denmark.
2
Department of Biomedical Magnetic Resonance, University Hospital Tübingen Tübingen, Germany ; Magnetic Resonance Center, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics Tübingen, Germany.
3
Department of Neurophysics, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences Leipzig, Germany ; Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Unit, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences Leipzig, Germany.
4
Department of Neurophysics, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences Leipzig, Germany ; Department of Diagnostics, Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology, Leipzig , Germany.
5
Department of Neurophysics, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences Leipzig, Germany ; Department of Physics, University of Nottingham Nottingham, UK.

Abstract

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is the workhorse of imaging-based human cognitive neuroscience. The use of fMRI is ever-increasing; within the last 4 years more fMRI studies have been published than in the previous 17 years. This large body of research has mainly focused on the functional localization of condition- or stimulus-dependent changes in the blood-oxygenation-level dependent signal. In recent years, however, many aspects of the commonly practiced analysis frameworks and methodologies have been critically reassessed. Here we summarize these critiques, providing an overview of the major conceptual and practical deficiencies in widely used brain-mapping approaches, and exemplify some of these issues by the use of imaging data and simulations. In particular, we discuss the inherent pitfalls and shortcomings of methodologies for statistical parametric mapping. Our critique emphasizes recent reports of excessively high numbers of both false positive and false negative findings in fMRI brain mapping. We outline our view regarding the broader scientific implications of these methodological considerations and briefly discuss possible solutions.

KEYWORDS:

brain mapping; cognitive neuroscience; critical neuroscience; fMRI; functional localization

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