By members and collaborators of the Functional Imaging Laboratory

Statistical Parametric Mapping


Statistical Parametric Mapping refers to the construction and assessment of spatially extended statistical processes used to test hypotheses about functional imaging data. These ideas have been instantiated in a free and open source software that is called SPM.

The SPM software package has been designed for the analysis of brain imaging data sequences. The sequences can be a series of images from different cohorts, or time-series from the same subject. The current release is designed for the analysis of fMRI, PET, SPECT, EEG and MEG.

Getting Started

Statistical Parametric Mapping

The best starting point is to download the latest version of the SPM software and a dataset to analyse. Step-by-step instructions for this analysis are available in the online tutorials.

If you're new to imaging, perhaps an epoch fMRI dataset would be appropriate. The data sets are provided with instructions on how to use SPM to analyse them. These tutorials therefore give practical instructions on how to implement the various methodologies. Our methods have been written up in books, technical reports and journal papers which are available from our online bibliography. This groups documentation according to year, category, author and keyword.

If you're looking for help on a particular topic you can find the relevant papers from the online bibliography. Alternatively, you can search the SPM pages using the search facility that appears at the top of every page. Also browse and search the SPM online documentation and please feel free to contribute it if you can. If you still can't find what you need, you could send an email to the SPM discussion list, which gives you access to our community of experts.

You should also be aware of the many courses on SPM. If there isn't one in your country this year then there's always the biannual short courses in-person in London and online. Finally, once you've mastered SPM you can learn about the various extensions provided by experts in the wider community.

Good luck !


The SPM suite and associated theory was originally developed by Karl Friston for the routine statistical analysis of functional neuroimaging data from Positron Emission Tomography (PET), while at the Medical Research Council Cyclotron Unit. Now known as SPMclassic, this software was made available to the emerging functional imaging community in 1991, to promote collaboration and a common analysis scheme across laboratories.

SPM'94 was the first major revision of the SPM software. SPM'94 was written primarily by Karl Friston during the summer of 1994, with invaluable conceptual and technical help from John Ashburner, Jon Heather, Andrew Holmes and Jean-Baptiste Poline. SPM'95, SPM'96, SPM'99, SPM2, SPM5, SPM8 and SPM12 are based on SPM'94, and represent the ongoing theoretical advances and technical improvements.

Read more about SPM history