abstract Marijke Welvaert

Marijke Welvaert (Department of Data Analysis, Ghent University)

Simulating fMRI data: the R package neuRosim

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is used as a powerful imaging tool to locate BOLD activation in time and in particular in place. With about 3300 publications in 2010 and heading the same number in 2011, the technique is also very popular in the neuroimaging community. Unfortunately, the ground truth of the data acquired using fMRI is unknown. This is a major problem because the location of activity in the data requires complex analysis processes that need to be validated to ensure that the analysis techniques are working properly. Validation is only possible if the ground truth is known. As a solution, fMRI data are generated artificially. However, simulation studies could be considered as a minority in the fMRI literature (only 100 publications in 2010). Moreover, there is currently no consensus on how to simulate fMRI data, neither is there any attempt made to converge and validate the existing simulation methods. Generally, simulation studies are conducted using ad-hoc methods and in-house software routines.

During the presentation, I will focus on the motivation for conducting simulation studies and demonstrate the role of the package. Further, I will show some examples on how the package can be beneficial for the experimental researcher.