Big Correlations in Little Studies: Inflated fMRI Correlations Reflect Low Statistical Power-Commentary on Vul Et Al. (2009)

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Vul, Harris, Winkielman, and Pashler (2009), (this issue) argue that correlations in many cognitive neuroscience studies are grossly inflated due to a widespread tendency to use nonindependent analyses. In this article, I argue that Vul et al.’s primary conclusion is correct, but for different reasons than they suggest. I demonstrate that the primary cause of grossly inflated correlations in whole-brain fMRI analyses is not nonindependence, but the pernicious combination of small sample sizes and stringent alpha-correction levels. Far from defusing Vul et al.’s conclusions, the simulations presented suggest that the level of inflation may be even worse than Vul et al.’s empirical analysis would suggest.

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Type of resources: Primary Source, Reading, Paper

Education level(s): College / Upper Division (Undergraduates)

Primary user(s): Student

Subject area(s): Applied Science, Life Science, Social Science

Language(s): English