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Multivariate neuroimaging analyses constitute a powerful class of techniques to identify psychological representations. However, not all psychological processes are represented at the same spatial scale throughout the brain. This heterogeneity is apparent when comparing hierarchically organized local representations of perceptual processes to flexible transmodal representations of more abstract cognitive processes such a social and emotional cognition. An open question is how the spatial scale of analytic approaches interacts with the spatial scale of the representations under investigation. In this article, we describe how multivariate analyses can be viewed as existing on a spatial spectrum, anchored by searchlights used to identify locally distributed patterns of information on one end, whole brain approach used to identify diffuse neural representations at the other, and region-based approaches as existing in between. We describe how these distinctions are an important and often overlooked analytic consideration and provide heuristics researchers can use to compare these different techniques to make a decision with respect to their own inferential goals.
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