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Soc Neurosci. 2018 Jun;13(3):257-267. doi: 10.1080/17470919.2017.1324521. Epub 2017 May 15.

Evaluating methods of correcting for multiple comparisons implemented in SPM12 in social neuroscience fMRI studies: an example from moral psychology.

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a Educational Psychology Program , University of Alabama , Tuscaloosa , AL , United States.
b Center for the Prevention of Youth Behavior Problems , University of Alabama , Tuscaloosa , AL , United States.


In fMRI research, the goal of correcting for multiple comparisons is to identify areas of activity that reflect true effects, and thus would be expected to replicate in future studies. Finding an appropriate balance between trying to minimize false positives (Type I error) while not being too stringent and omitting true effects (Type II error) can be challenging. Furthermore, the advantages and disadvantages of these types of errors may differ for different areas of study. In many areas of social neuroscience that involve complex processes and considerable individual differences, such as the study of moral judgment, effects are typically smaller and statistical power weaker, leading to the suggestion that less stringent corrections that allow for more sensitivity may be beneficial and also result in more false positives. Using moral judgment fMRI data, we evaluated four commonly used methods for multiple comparison correction implemented in Statistical Parametric Mapping 12 by examining which method produced the most precise overlap with results from a meta-analysis of relevant studies and with results from nonparametric permutation analyses. We found that voxelwise thresholding with familywise error correction based on Random Field Theory provides a more precise overlap (i.e., without omitting too few regions or encompassing too many additional regions) than either clusterwise thresholding, Bonferroni correction, or false discovery rate correction methods.


Multiple comparison correction; false discovery rate; familywise error correction; moral judgment; social neuroscience; statistical nonparametric mapping

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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