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Comment on Vul et al, ”Puzzlingly High Correlations in fMRI Studies of Emotion, Personality, and Social Cognition



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Comment on Vul et al Puzzlingly High Correlations in fMRI Studies of Emotion Personality and Social Cognition Thomas E Nichols1 2 3 Jean Baptist Poline2 1 Clinical Imaging Centre GlaxoSmithKline London 2 Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain University of Oxford Oxford UK 3 Department of Biostatistics University of Michigan Ann Arbor MI 4 Neurospin Institut d Imagerie Biomedicale CEA Paris In Press Perspectives on Psychological Science Thomas E Nichols Ph D Director Modelling Genetics GlaxoSmithKline Clinical Imaging Centre Imperial College Hammersmith Hospital London W12 0NN United Kingdom thomas e nichols gsk com Jean Baptiste Poline Ph D Neurospin projects coordinator Institut d Imagerie Biomedicale CEA B timent 145 Point Courrier 156 91191 Gif sur Yvette cedex Paris France jbpoline cea fr 1 Abstract Vul et al Puzzlingly High Correlations in fMRI Studies of Emotion Personality and Social Cognition make a broad case that current practice in neuroimaging methodology is deficient They go so far as to demand that authors retract or restate results which we find wrongly casts suspicion on the confirmatory inference methods that form the foundation of neuroimaging statistics We contend the authors argument is overstated and that their work can be distilled down to two points already familiar to the neuroimaging community That the multiple testing problem must be accounted for and that reporting of methods and results should be improved We also illuminate their concerns with standard statistical concepts like the distinction between estimation and inference and between confirmatory and post hoc inferences which makes their findings less puzzling 2 We are happy that the authors have generated such a stimulating discussion over fundamental statistical issues in neuroimaging However the issues raised are well known to brain imaging researchers and the paper could be distilled to two points that have already received much attention in the literature The first one is that



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