Movies in the magnet: Naturalistic paradigms in developmental functional neuroimaging

Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2019 Apr;36:100600. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2018.10.004. Epub 2018 Nov 20.


The use of movie-watching as an acquisition state for functional connectivity (FC) MRI has recently enabled multiple groups to obtain rich data sets in younger children with both substantial sample sizes and scan durations. Using naturalistic paradigms such as movies has also provided analytic flexibility for these developmental studies that extends beyond conventional resting state approaches. This review highlights the advantages and challenges of using movies for developmental neuroimaging and explores some of the methodological issues involved in designing pediatric studies with movies. Emerging themes from movie-watching studies are discussed, including an emphasis on intersubject correlations, developmental changes in network interactions under complex naturalistic conditions, and dynamic age-related changes in both sensory and higher-order network FC even in narrow age ranges. Converging evidence suggests an enhanced ability to identify brain-behavior correlations in children when using movie-watching data relative to both resting state and conventional tasks. Future directions and cautionary notes highlight the potential and the limitations of using movies to study FC in pediatric populations.

Keywords: Children; Head motion; Intersubject correlations; Movies; Naturalistic viewing; Resting state.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Functional Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Pictures / trends*