Computational Psychiatry & Decision-making

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  • doi pdf How representative are neuroimaging samples? Large-scale evidence for trait anxiety differences between MRI and behaviour-only research participants.
  • Charpentier C, Faulkner P, Pool E, Ly V, Tollenaar MS, Kluen LM, Fransen A, Yamamori Y, Lally N, Mkrtchian A, Valton V, Huys QJM, Morrow K, Krenz V, Kalbe F, Cremer A, Zerbes G, Kausche FM, Wanke N, Giarrizzo A, Pulcu E, Murphy A, Kaltenboeck A, Browning M, Paul LK, Cools R, Roelofs K, Pessoa L, Harmer C, Chase HW, Grillon C, Schwabe L, Roiser J, Robinson O and O'Doherty J
  • PsyArXiv
  • Over the past three decades, MRI has become a key tool to study how cognitive processes are implemented in the human brain. However, the question of whether participants recruited into MRI studies differ from participants recruited into other study contexts has received little to no attention. This is particularly pertinent when effects fail to generalize across study contexts: for example, if a behavioural effect discovered in a non-imaging context does not replicate in a neuroimaging environment. Here, we tested the hypothesis, motivated by preliminary findings (n=272), that MRI study participants differ from behaviour-only study participants on one fundamental individual difference variable: trait anxiety. Analysing a large-scale dataset drawn from multiple institutions (n=3317) and controlling for possible confounding variables, we found robust support for lower trait anxiety in MRI study participants, consistent with a sampling bias. Distributions of trait anxiety scores differed most markedly when psychiatric screening was minimal. Our findings highlight the need for surveying trait anxiety at recruitment and for appropriate screening procedures, in an attempt to mitigate this bias.