Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 1775–1785 | Cite as

Assessing motor, visual and language function using a single 5-minute fMRI paradigm: three birds with one stone

  • Simona Fiori
  • Carolin Zendler
  • Till-Karsten Hauser
  • Karen Lidzba
  • Marko WilkeEmail author
Original Research


Clinical functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) requires inferences on localization of major brain functions at the individual subject level. We hypothesized that a single “triple use” task would satisfy sensitivity and reliability requirements for successfully assessing the motor, visual and language domain in this context. This was tested here by the application in a group of healthy adults, assessing sensitivity and reliability at the individual subject level, separately for each domain.

Our “triple use” task consisted of 2 conditions (condition 1, assessing motor and visual domain, and condition 2, assessing the language domain), serving mutually as active/control. We included 20 healthy adult subjects. Random effect analyses showed activation in primary motor, visual and language regions, as expected. Less expected regions were activated both for the motor and visual domains. Further, reliability of primary activation patterns was very high across individual subjects, with activation seen in 70–100% of subjects in primary motor, visual, and left-lateralized language regions.

These findings suggest the “triple use” task to be reliable at the individual subject’s level to assess motor, visual and language domains in the clinical fMRI context. Benefits of such an approach include shortening of acquisition time, simplicity of the task for each domain, and using a visual stimulus. Following establishment of reliability in adults, the task may also be a valuable addition in the pediatric clinical fMRI context, where each of these factors is of high relevance.


Clinical functional MRI Children Visual Motor Language Triple use 



We would like to thank Eleonore Schwilling, PhD, for her expert help in voice recordings, and Mickael Dinomais, University of Caens, France, for supplying the hand video recordings.


This study was funded in part by the H.W. & J. Hector Foundation, Mannheim (M66, to MW). The sponsor had no role in study design, in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, in the writing of the report, and in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Simona Fiori declares that she has no conflict of interest. Carolin Zendler declares that she has no conflict of interest. Till-Karsten Hauser declares that he has no conflict of interest. Karen Lidzba declares that she has no conflict of interest. Marko Wilke declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental NeuroscienceIRCCS Stella MarisPisaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Pediatric Neurology & Developmental MedicineChildren’s HospitalTübingenGermany
  3. 3.Experimental Pediatric Neuroimaging groupPediatric NeurologyTübingenGermany
  4. 4.Department of NeuroradiologyUniversity HospitalTübingenGermany

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