Study design in fMRI: basic principles

Brain Cogn. 2006 Apr;60(3):220-32. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2005.11.009. Epub 2006 Jan 19.


There is a wide range of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study designs available for the neuroscientist who wants to investigate cognition. In this manuscript we review some aspects of fMRI study design, including cognitive comparison strategies (factorial, parametric designs), and stimulus presentation possibilities (block, event-related, rapid event-related, mixed, and self-driven experiment designs) along with technical aspects, such as limitations of signal to noise ratio, spatial, and temporal resolution. We also discuss methods to deal with cases where scanning parameters become the limiting factor (parallel acquisitions, variable jittered designs, scanner acoustic noise strategies).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping / instrumentation
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Research Design*