Building a Science of Individual Differences from fMRI

Trends in Cognitive Sciences 20 (6):425-443 (2016)
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To date, fMRI research has been concerned primarily with evincing generic principles of brain function through averaging data from multiple subjects. Given rapid developments in both hardware and analysis tools, the field is now poised to study fMRI-derived measures in individual subjects, and to relate these to psy- chological traits or genetic variations. We discuss issues of validity, reliability and statistical assessment that arise when the focus shifts to individual subjects and that are applicable also to other imaging modalities. We emphasize that individual assessment of neural function with fMRI presents specific challenges and neces- sitates careful consideration of anatomical and vascular between-subject vari- ability as well as sources of within-subject variability.
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