Parsing brain activity with fMRI and mixed designs: what kind of a state is neuroimaging in?

Trends Neurosci. 2004 Aug;27(8):442-4. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2004.06.001.


Neuroimaging is often pilloried for providing little more than pretty pictures that simply show where activity occurs in the brain. Strong critics (notably Uttal) have even argued that neuroimaging is nothing more than a modern day version of phrenology: destined to fail, and fundamentally uninformative. Here, I make the opposite case, arguing that neuroimaging is in a vibrant and healthy state of development. As recent investigations of memory illustrate, when used well, neuroimaging goes beyond asking 'where' activity is occurring, to ask questions concerned more with 'what' functional role the activity reflects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / instrumentation*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Neurophysiology / methods
  • Research Design