Beyond the single study: function/location metanalysis in cognitive neuroimaging

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1998 Apr;8(2):178-87. doi: 10.1016/s0959-4388(98)80138-4.


Cognitive neuroimaging maps the brain locations of mental operations. This process is iterative, as no single study can fully characterize a mental operation or its brain location. This iterative discovery process, in combination with the location-reporting standard (i.e. spatial coordinates) of the cognitive neuroimaging community, has engendered a new form of metanalysis. Response locations from multiple studies have been analyzed collectively so as to better describe the spatial distribution of brain activations, with promising results. New hypotheses regarding elementary mental operations and their respective brain locations are being generated and refined via metanalysis. These hypotheses are being tested and confirmed by subsequent, prospective experiments. Function/location metanalysis is an important new tool for hypothesis generation in cognitive neuroimaging. This form of metanalysis is fundamentally different from the effect-size metanalyses prevalent in other literatures, with unique advantages and challenges.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Diagnostic Imaging*
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic