Current Challenges in Translational and Clinical fMRI and Future Directions
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionFrontiers in Psychiatry. 2020, 10, 924. 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00924
Translational neuroscience is an important field that brings together clinical praxis with neuroscience methods. In this review article, the focus will be on functional neuroimaging (fMRI) and its applicability in clinical fMRI studies. In the light of the “replication crisis,” three aspects will be critically discussed: First, the fMRI signal itself, second, current fMRI praxis, and, third, the next generation of analysis strategies. Current attempts such as resting-state fMRI, meta-analyses, and machine learning will be discussed with their advantages and potential pitfalls and disadvantages. One major concern is that the fMRI signal shows substantial within- and between-subject variability, which affects the reliability of both task-related, but in particularly resting-state fMRI studies. Furthermore, the lack of standardized acquisition and analysis methods hinders the further development of clinical relevant approaches. However, meta-analyses and machine-learning approaches may help to overcome current shortcomings in the methods by identifying new, and yet hidden relationships, and may help to build new models on disorder mechanisms. Furthermore, better control of parameters that may have an influence on the fMRI signal and that can easily be controlled for, like blood pressure, heart rate, diet, time of day, might improve reliability substantially.