How to Interpret Resting-State fMRI: Ask Your Participants

Javier Gonzalez-Castillo
Julia Kam
Colin Hoy
Peter Bandettini
Resting-state fMRI (rsfMRI) reveals brain dynamics in a task-unconstrained environment as subjects let their minds wander freely. Consequently, resting subjects navigate a rich space of cognitive and perceptual states (i.e., ongoing experience). How this ongoing experience shapes rsfMRI summary metrics (e.g., functional connectivity) is unknown, yet likely to contribute uniquely to within- and between-subject differences. Here we argue that understanding the role of ongoing experience in rsfMRI requires access to standardized, temporally resolved, scientifically validated first-person descriptions of those experiences. We suggest best practices for obtaining those descriptions via introspective methods appropriately adapted for use in fMRI research. We conclude with a set of guidelines for fusing these two data types to answer pressing questions about the etiology of rsfMRI.
Year of Publication
Journal of Neuroscience