What is the test-retest reliability of common task-fMRI 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-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 ICC=.397). Second, the test-retest reliabilities of activity in a priori regions of interest across 11 common fMRI tasks collected in the context of 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 individual differences research. We review how this state of affairs came to be and highlight avenues for improving task-fMRI reliability.
Elliott, M; Knodt, A; Ireland, D; Morris, M; Poulton, R; Ramrakha, S; Sison, M; Moffitt, T; Caspi, A; Hariri, A
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