What Is the Test-Retest Reliability of Common Task-Functional MRI Measures? New Empirical Evidence and a Meta-Analysis.
Identifying brain biomarkers of disease risk is a growing priority in neuroscience. The ability to identify meaningful biomarkers is limited by measurement reliability; unreliable measures are unsuitable for predicting clinical outcomes. Measuring brain activity using task functional MRI (fMRI) is a major focus of biomarker development; however, the reliability of task fMRI has not been systematically evaluated. We present converging evidence demonstrating poor reliability of task-fMRI measures. First, a meta-analysis of 90 experiments (N = 1,008) revealed poor overall reliability-mean intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) = .397. Second, the test-retest reliabilities of activity in a priori regions of interest across 11 common fMRI tasks collected by the Human Connectome Project (N = 45) and the Dunedin Study (N = 20) were poor (ICCs = .067-.485). Collectively, these findings demonstrate that common task-fMRI measures are not currently suitable for brain biomarker discovery or for individual-differences research. We review how this state of affairs came to be and highlight avenues for improving task-fMRI reliability.
Elliott, ML; Knodt, AR; Ireland, D; Morris, ML; Poulton, R; Ramrakha, S; Sison, ML; Moffitt, TE; Caspi, A; Hariri, AR
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