“We controlled for race and ethnicity...” Considerations for the use and communication of race and ethnicity in neuroimaging research


The growing availability of large population neuroimaging datasets provides researchers with unique opportunities to conduct rigorous and impactful studies on brain and behavioral development. Increasing sample sizes and participant diversity provide researchers with a more comprehensive view of neurodevelopmental processes among more diverse populations than those that have traditionally been studied in more homogeneous samples. However, patterns observed in these types of large datasets are also more likely to be impacted by, and thereby reproduced in their dissemination, upstream forces of inequities (i.e., structural racism) that contribute to disparities in health behaviors and outcomes based on race, ethnicity, and social class. Despite their importance, there is limited guidance for neuroscientists on conceptualizing, contextualizing, and communicating about topics of race and ethnicity. This paper aims to discuss considerations regarding use and communication of race and ethnicity in research and serve as a starting point for researchers to evaluate their own practices around race and ethnicity topics. We provide recommendations for researchers to reflect on race and ethnicity choices in study design, model specification, statistical analysis, and communication of results, implement practices to avoid the further stigmatization of historically minoritized groups, and engage in research practices that counteract existing harmful biases.