Stanford Psychologists Uncover Brain-Imaging Inaccuracies

Stanford Psychologists Uncover Brain-Imaging Inaccuracies

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Traditional methods of fMRI analysis systematically skew which regions of the brain appear to be activating, potentially invalidating hundreds of papers that use the technique, according to Stanford School of Medicine researchers.

Pictures of brain regions “activating” are by now a familiar accompaniment to any neurological news story (including some in KurzweilAI — see Editor’s note below). With functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, you can see specific brain regions light up, standing out against the background.

It’s easy to forget that these brain images aren’t real snapshots of brain activity, said Matthew Sacchet, a PhD student in the Neurosciences Program at the Stanford School of Medicine.

“Instead, each picture is the result of many layers of analysis and interpretation, far removed from raw data. It’s just one representation of brain activity. As you process the data, it can change.”

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