Naturalistic imaging: The use of ecologically valid conditions to study brain function

Publication Year


Journal Article

The cover (by artist Tobias S. Hoffmann) for this special issue on Naturalistic imaging was created with vintage movie posters in mind. It depicts a King Kong-like figure taking a city by storm, the remnants of the beloved Stroop task dangling from one hand, the promise of a glowing brain in the other. From our vantage point as guest editors, this issue has captured a tipping point for naturalistic imaging in the field. The sheer number of submissions received (more than 100) suggests that naturalistic imaging has become more than just a subfield in and of itself, and many articles are from groups that previously worked exclusively with resting state and/or conventional task conditions. In other words, these studies reflect the widespread use of naturalistic conditions as an acquisition state. The goal of the issue was to represent the breadth of research being done that is using naturalistic conditions, and to capture both theoretical and practical implications of the pivot towards these types of conditions in neuroimaging. Due to the size of the issue (fifty articles) and the long period over which the articles came to press, we have structured our editorial summary as a curated Table of Contents to point readers to papers by theme (of note, some articles are listed in more than one category). We also include a more visual table of contents, where the issue is presented as a network of articles based on a similarity analysis of article abstracts.