Thresholding of statistical maps in functional neuroimaging using the false discovery rate

Christopher R. Genovese, Nicole A. Lazar, Thomas Nichols

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3937 Scopus citations


Finding objective and effective thresholds for voxelwise statistics derived from neuroimaging data has been a long-standing problem. With at least one test performed for every voxel in an image, some correction of the thresholds is needed to control the error rates, but standard procedures for multiple hypothesis testing (e.g., Bonferroni) tend to not be sensitive enough to be useful in this context. This paper introduces to the neuroscience literature statistical procedures for controlling the false discovery rate (FDR). Recent theoretical work in statistics suggests that FDR-controlling procedures will be effective for the analysis of neuroimaging data. These procedures operate simultaneously on all voxelwise test statistics to determine which tests should be considered statistically significant. The innovation of the procedures is that they control the expected proportion of the rejected hypotheses that are falsely rejected. We demonstrate this approach using both simulations and functional magnetic resonance imaging data from two simple experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number91037
Pages (from-to)870-878
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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