boxcar design

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A type of experimental design in which each research participant or subject is exposed to a series of alternating levels of an independent variable. It is widely used in fMRI research (see under MRI), a typical example being a study in which experimental trials, in which participants look at pictures of faces, are alternated with control trials, in which they look at neutral images, and brain activity in these two conditions is compared. It is a special type of within-subjects design. [Named after the resemblance of a graph of the independent variable to the alternating up and down shape of a railway train consisting of boxcars or closed freight wagons]

Subjects: Psychology.

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