How reliable is resting state fMRI?

Arguably, no advance has revolutionized neuroscience as much as the invention of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Since its appearance in the early 1990’s, its popularity has surged; a PubMed search returns nearly 30,000 publications with the term “fMRI” since its first mention in 1993, including 4,404 last year alone. Still today, fMRI stands as one of the best available methods to noninvasively image activity in the living brain with exceptional spatiotemporal resolution. But the quality of any research tool depends foremost on its ability to produce results in a predictable and reasonable way. Despite its widespread use, and general acceptance its efficacy and power, neuroscientists have had to interpret fMRI results with a large dose of partially-blind faith, given our incomplete grasp of its physiological origins and reliability. In…


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