Studying brain organization via spontaneous fMRI signal
Jonathan Power, Brad Schlaggar, Steve Petersen
Neuron 2014 Nov 19; 84(4):681-96
Neuroscience methods can be complex, which tends to wall off fields from each other simply because people in one field have only a dim idea of the nuts and bolts of how another field works. One real pleasure for me at SFN last year was to sit in on a short course on multi-cellular imaging - several of the speakers gave excellent introductory talks that showed not only how those exciting results are obtained, methodologically, but also some of the kinks and wrinkles in the data that give them gray hair or make them argue with one another. I don't understand their work, really, but I have a better sense of what I don't understand.
I hope that this article is a similar experience for the reader. This article is a Primer, a special type of review that is more technical than normal, and usually focused on a single methodology. In this case, it's a Primer on resting state functional connectivity MRI. I wanted the article to give other neuroscientists a sense of what people who study "functional connectivity" actually do. And I wanted the paper not just to be a list of publications and facts, but a digestion of the literature, so that a story carries the reader forward through the rapid growth of this field over the last 10 years. I also wanted the reader to get a sense of the active debates in the field and why processing methods can be so consequential for studies.
This last point I think is especially important. To a practicing clinician say, or a molecular biologist, many of the technical aspects of functional connectivity MRI must be opaque. Just as I cannot judge how well a pathology study has selected tissue and molecular stains to answer the question at hand, such readers cannot judge the foundation of most of the functional connectivity literature. They have to take our results at face value, more or less. Readers of this review won't come away ready to make such technical judgements, but I hope they now get a sense of the outlines of the foundation.