This report provides practical recommendations for the design and execution of multicenter functional MRI (MC-fMRI) studies based on the collective experience of the Function Biomedical Informatics Research Network (FBIRN). The study was inspired by many requests from the fMRI community to FBIRN group members for advice on how to conduct MC-fMRI studies. The introduction briefly discusses the advantages and complexities of MC-fMRI studies. Prerequisites for MC-fMRI studies are addressed before delving into the practical aspects of carefully and efficiently setting up a MC-fMRI study. Practical multisite aspects include: (i) establishing and verifying scan parameters including scanner types and magnetic fields, (ii) establishing and monitoring of a scanner quality program, (iii) developing task paradigms and scan session documentation, (iv) establishing clinical and scanner training to ensure consistency over time, (v) developing means for uploading, storing, and monitoring of imaging and other data, (vi) the use of a traveling fMRI expert, and (vii) collectively analyzing imaging data and disseminating results. We conclude that when MC-fMRI studies are organized well with careful attention to unification of hardware, software and procedural aspects, the process can be a highly effective means for accessing a desired participant demographics while accelerating scientific discovery.
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.