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Voxel-wise general linear models (GLMs) are a standard approach for analyzing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data. An advantage of GLMs is that they are flexible and can be adapted to the requirements of many different data sets. However, the specification of first-level GLMs leaves the researcher with many degrees of freedom which is problematic given recent efforts to ensure robust and reproducible fMRI data analysis. Formal model comparisons that allow a systematic assessment<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener noreferrer" href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.07.047">doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.07.047</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27477536">pmid:27477536</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="https://fatcat.wiki/release/7ytsxi3b6bgwhdpnywhe76bp2a">fatcat:7ytsxi3b6bgwhdpnywhe76bp2a</a> </span>
more »... GLMs are only rarely performed. On the one hand, too simple models may underfit data and leave real effects undiscovered. On the other hand, too complex models might overfit data and also reduce statistical power. Here we present a systematic approach termed cross-validated Bayesian model selection (cvBMS) that allows to decide which GLM best describes a given fMRI data set. Importantly, our approach allows for nonnested model comparison, i.e. comparing more than two models that do not just differ by adding one or more regressors. It also allows for spatially heterogeneous modelling, i.e. using different models for different parts of the brain. We validate our method using simulated data and demonstrate potential applications to empirical data. The increased use of model comparison and model selection should increase the reliability of GLM results and reproducibility of fMRI studies.
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