fMRI adaptation revisited

Cortex. 2016 Jul:80:154-60. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2015.10.026. Epub 2015 Nov 17.


Adaptation has been widely used in functional magnetic imaging (fMRI) studies to infer neuronal response properties in human cortex. fMRI adaptation has been criticized because of the complex relationship between fMRI adaptation effects and the multiple neuronal effects that could underlie them. Many of the longstanding concerns about fMRI adaptation have received empirical support from neurophysiological studies over the last decade. We review these studies here, and also consider neuroimaging studies that have investigated how fMRI adaptation effects are influenced by high-level perceptual processes. The results of these studies further emphasize the need to interpret fMRI adaptation results with caution, but they also provide helpful guidance for more accurate interpretation and better experimental design. In addition, we argue that rather than being used as a proxy for measurements of neuronal stimulus selectivity, fMRI adaptation may be most useful for studying population-level adaptation effects across cortical processing hierarchies.

Keywords: Adaptation; Function imaging; Repetition suppression; Surround suppression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*