DataSheet_1_A Neglected Topic in Neuroscience: Replicability of fMRI Results With Specific Reference to ANOREXIA NERVOSA.pdf
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Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies report impaired functional correlates of cognition and emotion in mental disorders. The validity of preexisting studies needs to be confirmed through replication studies, which there is a lack of. So far, most replication studies have been conducted on non-patients (NP) and primarily investigated cognitive and motor tasks. To fill this gap, we conducted the first fMRI replication study to investigate brain function using disease-related food stimuli in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN). Using fMRI, we investigated 31 AN patients and 27 NP for increased amygdala and reduced midcingulate activation when viewing food and non-food stimuli, as reported by the original study (11AN, 11NP; Joos et al., 2011). Similar to the previous study, we observed in the within group comparisons (food>non-food) a frontoinsular activation for both groups. Although in AN the recorded activation clustered more prominently and extended into the cingulate cortex. In the between-group comparisons, the increased amygdala and reduced midcingulate activation could not be replicated. Instead, AN showed a higher activation of the cingulate cortices, the pre-/postcentral gyrus and the inferior parietal lobe. Unlike in the initial study, no significant differences between NP>AN could be observed. The inconsistency of results and the non-replication of the study could have several reasons, such as high inter-individual variance of functional correlates of emotion processing, as well as intra-individual variances and the smaller group size of the initial study. These results underline the importance of replication for assessing the reliability and validity of results from fMRI research.
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