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Reliability and validity of functional neuroimaging techniques for identifying language-critical areas in children and adults

, : Reliability and validity of functional neuroimaging techniques for identifying language-critical areas in children and adults. Developmental Neuropsychology 26(2): 541-563

Advances in neuroimaging technologies over the last 15 years have prompted their relatively widespread use in the study of brain mechanisms supporting language function in children and adults. We reviewed reliability and external validity studies of 3 of the most common functional imaging methods, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and positron emission tomography (PET). Although reliability and validity reports for fMRI are generally quite favorable, significant variability was found across studies with respect to methodology, preventing in some cases either the assessment of the reliability of individual datasets, or cross-study comparisons. Reliability and validity reports of MEG are strong, yet methodological questions regarding optimal modeling techniques remain. PET investigators report good concordance of language maps with data from more invasive brain mapping techniques, but its use of radioactive tracers and poorer spatial and temporal resolution make it the least optimal of the 3 methods for language mapping. Investigations of the cortical networks supporting language function during development and into adulthood should be viewed in the context of the validity and reliability of the methods used, with careful attention to details regarding the methodologies employed in the acquisition and analysis of statistical maps.


PMID: 15456683

DOI: 10.1207/s15326942dn2602_1

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