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Is the Statistic Value All We Should Care about in Neuroimaging?

By Gang Chen, Paul A. Taylor, Robert W. Cox

Posted 15 Jul 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/064212 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.09.066)

Here we address an important issue that has been embedded within the neuroimaging community for a long time: the absence of effect estimates in results reporting in the literature. The statistic value itself, as a dimensionless measure, does not provide information on the biophysical interpretation of a study, and it certainly does not represent the whole picture of a study. Unfortunately, in contrast to standard practice in most scientific fields, effect (or amplitude) estimates are usually not provided in most results reporting in the current neuroimaging publications and presentations. Possible reasons underlying this general trend include: 1) lack of general awareness, 2) software limitations, 3) inaccurate estimation of the BOLD response, and 4) poor modeling due to our relatively limited understanding of FMRI signal components. However, as we discuss here, such reporting damages the reliability and interpretability of the scientific findings themselves, and there is in fact no overwhelming reason for such a practice to persist. In order to promote meaningful interpretation, cross validation, reproducibility, meta and power analyses in neuroimaging, we strongly suggest that, as part of good scientific practice, effect estimates should be reported together with their corresponding statistic values. We provide several easily adaptable recommendations for facilitating this process.

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