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      Divide and conquer: a defense of functional localizers.

      Brain Mapping, Cerebral Cortex, anatomy & histology, physiology, Dominance, Cerebral, Fourier Analysis, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, instrumentation, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Mathematical Computing, Mind-Body Relations, Metaphysical, Radiosurgery, Sensitivity and Specificity, Surgery, Computer-Assisted

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          Numerous functionally distinct regions of cortex (e.g., V1, MT, the fusiform face area) can be easily identified in any normal human subject in just a few minutes of fMRI scanning. However, the locations of these regions vary across subjects. Investigations of these regions have therefore often used a functional region of interest (fROI) approach in which the region is first identified functionally in each subject individually, before subsequent scans in the same subjects test specific hypotheses concerning that region. This fROI method, which resembled long-established practice in visual neurophysiology, has methodological, statistical, and theoretical advantages over standard alternatives (such as whole-brain analyses of group data): (i) because functional properties are more consistently and robustly associated with fROIs than with locations in stereotaxic space, functional hypotheses concerning fROIs are often the most straightforward to frame, motivate, and test, (ii) because hypotheses are tested in only a handful of fROIs (instead of in tens of thousands of voxels), advance specification of fROIs provides a massive increase in statistical power over whole-brain analyses, and (iii) some fROIs may serve as candidate distinct components of the mind/brain worth investigation as such. Of course fROIs can be productively used in conjunction with other complementary methods. Here, we explain the motivation for and advantages of the fROI approach, and we rebut the criticism of this method offered by Friston et al. (Friston, K., Rotshtein, P., Geng, J., Sterzer, P., Henson, R., in press. A critique of functional localizers. NeuroImage).

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