Validity and reliability of four language mapping paradigms

Stephen M. Wilson, Alexa Bautista, Melodie Yen, Stefanie Lauderdale, Dana K. Eriksson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Language areas of the brain can be mapped in individual participants with functional MRI. We investigated the validity and reliability of four language mapping paradigms that may be appropriate for individuals with acquired aphasia: sentence completion, picture naming, naturalistic comprehension, and narrative comprehension. Five neurologically normal older adults were scanned on each of the four paradigms on four separate occasions. Validity was assessed in terms of whether activation patterns reflected the known typical organization of language regions, that is, lateralization to the left hemisphere, and involvement of the left inferior frontal gyrus and the left middle and/or superior temporal gyri. Reliability (test-retest reproducibility) was quantified in terms of the Dice coefficient of similarity, which measures overlap of activations across time points. We explored the impact of different absolute and relative voxelwise thresholds, a range of cluster size cutoffs, and limitation of analyses to a priori potential language regions. We found that the narrative comprehension and sentence completion paradigms offered the best balance of validity and reliability. However, even with optimal combinations of analysis parameters, there were many scans on which known features of typical language organization were not demonstrated, and test-retest reproducibility was only moderate for realistic parameter choices. These limitations in terms of validity and reliability may constitute significant limitations for many clinical or research applications that depend on identifying language regions in individual participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-408
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - 2017


  • Language mapping
  • Reliability
  • Test-retest reproducibility
  • Validity
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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