Cluster success: fMRI inferences for spatial extent have acceptable false-positive rates

Cogn Neurosci. 2017 Jul;8(3):150-155. doi: 10.1080/17588928.2017.1319350. Epub 2017 Apr 19.


In an editorial (this issue), I argued that Eklund, Nichols, and Knutsson's 'null data' reflected resting-state/default network activity that inflated their false-positive rates. Commentaries on that paper were received by Nichols, Eklund, and Knutsson (this issue), Hopfinger (this issue), and Cunningham and Koscik (this issue). In this author response, I consider these commentaries. Many issues stemming from Nichols et al. are identified including: (1) Nichols et al. did not provide convincing arguments that resting-state fMRI data reflect null data. (2) Eklund et al. presented one-sample t-test results in the main body of their paper showing that their permutation method was acceptable, while their supplementary results showed that this method produced false-positive rates that were similar to other methods. (3) Eklund et al. used the same event protocol for all the participants, which artifactually inflated the one-sample t-test false-positive rates. (4) At p < .001, using two-sample t-tests (which corrected for the flawed analysis), all the methods employed to correct for multiple comparisons had acceptable false-positive rates. (5) Eklund et al. contrasted resting-state periods, which produced many significant clusters of activity, while null data should arguably be associated with few, if any, significant activations. Eklund et al.'s entire set of results show that commonly employed methods to correct for multiple comparisons have acceptable false-positive rates. Following Hopfinger along with Cunningham and Koscik, it is also highlighted that rather than focusing on only type I error, type I error and type II error should be balanced in fMRI analysis.

Keywords: clusterwise inference; default network; fMRI; false cluster; false positive; familywise error; multiple comparisons; type I error.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*