Experimental design

The basic principle of experimental design in fMRI is to manipulate the subject's experience or behaviour in some way that is likely to produce a functionally specific neurovascular response. It is usually important that the experiment should be designed to allow some other measure of response, for instance a button press, to be monitored simultaneously. We shall illustrate these and other principles by considering how one might design an experiment to identify the regions of the brain that are important in making a (semantic) decision about the meaning of words. As will become clear, no single design is ideal; each has its strengths and weaknesses, and the choice between them should be considered carefully in the light of the particular hypothesis one is using fMRI to test.

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