ALE meta-analysis: controlling the false discovery rate and performing statistical contrasts

Hum Brain Mapp. 2005 May;25(1):155-64. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20136.


Activation likelihood estimation (ALE) has greatly advanced voxel-based meta-analysis research in the field of functional neuroimaging. We present two improvements to the ALE method. First, we evaluate the feasibility of two techniques for correcting for multiple comparisons: the single threshold test and a procedure that controls the false discovery rate (FDR). To test these techniques, foci from four different topics within the literature were analyzed: overt speech in stuttering subjects, the color-word Stroop task, picture-naming tasks, and painful stimulation. In addition, the performance of each thresholding method was tested on randomly generated foci. We found that the FDR method more effectively controls the rate of false positives in meta-analyses of small or large numbers of foci. Second, we propose a technique for making statistical comparisons of ALE meta-analyses and investigate its efficacy on different groups of foci divided by task or response type and random groups of similarly obtained foci. We then give an example of how comparisons of this sort may lead to advanced designs in future meta-analytic research.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mathematical Computing*
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Stuttering / diagnosis