SPM is an academic software toolkit for the analysis of functional imaging data, for users familiar with the underlying statistical, mathematical and image processing concepts. It is essential to understand these underlying concepts in order to use the software effectively. A good starting point is the Introduction to SPM, by Karl Friston.

Peer reviewed literature

The primary reference for the theories underlying SPM are the academic papers in the peer reviewed literature. These are available via the Online Bibliography which organises books, papers and technical reports by year, category, author and keyword. An Annotated Bibliography provides a guide to the various papers.


The book Statistical Parametric Mapping: The Analysis of Functional Brain Images (2007) provides the background and methodology for the analysis of all types of brain imaging data, from functional magnetic resonance imaging to magnetoencephalography. Critically, "Statistical Parametric Mapping" provides a widely accepted conceptual framework which allows treatment of all these different modalities. The book takes the reader from the basic concepts underlying the analysis of neuroimaging data to cutting edge approaches that would be difficult to find in any other source. The material is presented in an incremental way so that the reader can understand the precedents for each new development. This book will be particularly useful to neuroscientists engaged in any form of brain mapping; who have to contend with the real-world problems of data analysis and understanding the techniques they are using. It is primarily a scientific treatment and a didactic introduction to the analysis of brain imaging data. It can be used as both a textbook for students and scientists starting to use the techniques, as well as a reference for practicing neuroscientists. Statistical Parametric Mapping: The Analysis of Functional Brain Images

The book can be ordered online via Elsevier or, e.g., Amazon.

Introductory articles are also provided in the earlier book Human Brain Function. PDFs of draft versions of book chapters are available online:


There is an SPM12 manual distributed with the software (spm12/man/manual.pdf), which is written by the developers. Much of the manual's contents are also available via the SPM batch interface. See also the release notes.

The SPM8 distribution contains a manual in (spm8/man/manual.pdf) and release notes.

The SPM5 distribution contains a manual in (spm5/man/manual.pdf).

There is no manual for SPM2, but the SPM99 manual is roughly applicable.

Methods for Dummies

Each year our department runs a series of methods talks by non-experts. Powerpoint versions are available for:

Third party documentation

There is a SPM WikiBook, which is written and maintained by the international SPM community. The wiki allows users to read and edit the content for free. The end results will be mature, up-to-date and broad repositories for information on SPM. Please do take a look at the SPM wiki and feel free to contribute to it if you can.

SPM WikiBooks

Beginners guides & overviews of SPM :

Cambridge Imaging Home Page (MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit)


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.

Tell me more about SPM history.

Last modified $Date: 2014/09/29 11:49:11 $ by $Author: spm $

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