Multicentre MRI studies offer great potential to increase study power and flexibility, but it is not yet clear how reproducible the results from multiple centres may be. Here we present results from the multicentre study ‘CaliBrain’, examining the reproducibility of fMRI data within and between three sites. Fourteen subjects were scanned twice on three 1.5 T GE scanners using an identical scanning protocol. We present data from a motor task with three conditions, sequential and random finger tapping and rest. Similar activation maps were obtained for each site and visit; brain areas consistently activated during the task included the premotor, primary motor and supplementary motor areas, the striatum and cerebellum. Reproducibility was evaluated within and between sites by comparing the extent and spatial agreement of activation maps at both the subject and group levels. The results were within the range previously reported for similar tasks on single scanners and both measures were found to be comparable within and between sites, with between site reproducibility similar to the within site measures. A variance components analysis was used to examine the effects of site, subject and visit. The contributions of site and visit were small and reproducibility was similar between and within sites, whereas the variance between subjects, and unexplained variance was large. These findings suggest that we can have confidence in combined results from multicentre fMRI studies, at least when a consistent protocol is followed on similar machines in all participating scanning sites and care is taken to select homogeneous subject groups.
- Scanner harmonisation