A critique of functional localisers

Neuroimage. 2006 May 1;30(4):1077-87. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.08.012. Epub 2006 Apr 25.


In this critique, we review the usefulness of functional localising scans in functional MRI studies. We consider their conceptual motivations and the implications for experimental design and inference. Functional localisers can often be viewed as acquiring data from cells that have been removed from an implicit factorial design. This perspective reveals their potentially restrictive nature. We deconstruct two examples from the recent literature to highlight the key issues. We conclude that localiser scans can be unnecessary and, in some instances, lead to a biased and inappropriately constrained characterisation of functional anatomy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Depth Perception / physiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation*
  • Mathematical Computing
  • Occipital Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Radiosurgery / instrumentation
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation