On the definition of signal-to-noise ratio and contrast-to-noise ratio for FMRI data

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 6;8(11):e77089. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077089. eCollection 2013.


Signal-to-noise ratio, the ratio between signal and noise, is a quantity that has been well established for MRI data but is still subject of ongoing debate and confusion when it comes to fMRI data. fMRI data are characterised by small activation fluctuations in a background of noise. Depending on how the signal of interest and the noise are identified, signal-to-noise ratio for fMRI data is reported by using many different definitions. Since each definition comes with a different scale, interpreting and comparing signal-to-noise ratio values for fMRI data can be a very challenging job. In this paper, we provide an overview of existing definitions. Further, the relationship with activation detection power is investigated. Reference tables and conversion formulae are provided to facilitate comparability between fMRI studies.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio*
  • Terminology as Topic

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.