Big fMRI error in Science!!!

 In journals, memory, neuroimaging

This really gets me freaked out! Martin says I’m just a grumpy old (?) man. So let me lie along the Neurocritic approach just for a minute, and just air my frustration:

HOW CAN YOU GET A SCIENCE PUBLICATION WITH A HUMONGOUS ERROR?

Take a look at this image. It’s from a 2007 article in Science by Depue et al.

It’s supposed to show activation in the hippocampus and amygdala. Looks innocent, right? Let’s take a closer look.

Slice number 3 really provides the best errors:

I spent quite a while figuring the figues out. Did the yellow names indicate the blobs or where the structures actually are? For one thing, the blue blobs don’t fit into amygdala or hippocampus, but rather the entorhinal cortex. But let me comment on two big errors related to this slice.

First, the hippocampus is not present on this slice, so why put the name there? And why put it that lateral? This is really bothering. Do the researchers (and reviewers) really think that the hippocampus has anything to do here?

Second, the rightmost activation blob is centered in white matter. Hmm.. would that not give you the opportunity to speculate whether your coregistration was correct? I would. Related to this, let me just comment briefly on the two leftmost slices:

If you look at the blob, it really looks as if it fits better into the hippocampus. The entorhinal cortex is a thin slice with a whole different orientation. My guess: the hippocampus.

Next slide:

As before, I’m really curisous whether this is only a sign of poorly coregistered (and checked) fMRI images to the structural template brain. Or can it be just another example of why standard spatial normalization in this region is too problematic.

Guys, let’s face it: this is probably one of the bigger, non-spotted errors one can find in visualization of fMRI data. Does it help validate fMRI as a method? NO. How can this error be allowed? I have no idea. But would I trust ANY of the other spatial localizations in this article? NO WAY!

Get a grip, guys! Check your images, and get your medial temporal lobe your anatomy right!

-Thomas

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