Studying brain organization via spontaneous fMRI signal

Jonathan D. Power, Bradley L. Schlaggar, Steven E. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


In recent years, some substantial advances in understanding human (and nonhuman) brain organization have emerged from a relatively unusual approach: the observation of spontaneous activity, and correlated patterns in spontaneous activity, in the "resting" brain. Most commonly, spontaneous neural activity is measured indirectly via fMRI signal in subjects who are lying quietly in the scanner, the so-called "resting state." This Primer introduces the fMRI-based study of spontaneous brain activity, some of the methodological issues active in the field, and some ways in which resting-state fMRI has been used to delineate aspects of area-level and supra-areal brain organization. Human brain organization, in health and disease, is increasingly studied by measuring spontaneous brain activity with fMRI. This Primer explains how researchers study these fMRI signals, and what these signals might reveal about brain organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-696
Number of pages16
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 19 2014


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