In this exploratory study we compare and contrast two methods for deriving a laterality index (LI) from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data: the weighted bootstrapped mean from the LI Toolbox (toolbox method), and a novel method that uses subtraction of activations from homologous regions in left and right hemispheres to give an array of difference scores (mirror method). Data came from 31 individuals who had been selected to include a high proportion of people with atypical laterality when tested with functional transcranial Doppler ultrasound (fTCD). On two tasks, word generation and semantic matching, the mirror method generally gave better agreement with fTCD laterality than the toolbox method, both for individual regions of interest, and for a large region corresponding to the middle cerebral artery. LI estimates from this method had much smaller confidence intervals (CIs) than those from the toolbox method; with the mirror method, most participants were reliably lateralised to left or right, whereas with the toolbox method, a higher proportion were categorised as bilateral (i.e., the CI for the LI spanned zero). Reasons for discrepancies between fMRI methods are discussed: one issue is that the toolbox method averages the LI across a wide range of thresholds. Furthermore, examination of task-related t-statistic maps from the two hemispheres showed that language lateralisation is evident in regions characterised by deactivation, and so key information may be lost by ignoring voxel activations below zero, as is done with conventional estimates of the LI.

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Competing Interests

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Author notes

Handling Editor: Stefano Cappa

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