Reliability of cortical activity during natural stimulation

Trends Cogn Sci. 2010 Jan;14(1):40-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.10.011. Epub 2009 Dec 11.


Response reliability is complementary to more conventional measurements of response amplitudes, and can reveal phenomena that response amplitudes do not. Here we review studies that measured reliability of cortical activity within or between human subjects in response to naturalistic stimulation (e.g. free viewing of movies). Despite the seemingly uncontrolled nature of the task, some of these complex stimuli evoke highly reliable, selective and time-locked activity in many brain areas, including some regions that show little response modulation in most conventional experimental protocols. This activity provides an opportunity to address novel questions concerning natural vision, temporal scale of processing, memory and the neural basis of inter-group differences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebral Cortex / blood supply
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*


  • Oxygen