Principal component analysis (PCA) is one of several structure-seeking multivariate statistical techniques, exploratory as well as inferential, that have been proposed recently for the characterization and detection of activation in both PET and fMRI time series data. In particular, PCA is data driven and does not assume that the neural or hemodynamic response reaches some steady state, nor does it involve correlation with any pre-defined or exogenous experimental design template. In this paper, we present a generalized linear systems framework for PCA based on the singular value decomposition (SVD) model for representation of spatio-temporal fMRI data sets. Statistical inference procedures for PCA, including point and interval estimation will be introduced without the constraint of explicit hypotheses about specific task-dependent effects. The principal eigenvectors capture both the spatial and temporal aspects of fMRI data in a progressive fashion; they are inherently matched to unique and uncorrelated features and are ranked in order of the amount of variance explained. PCA also acts as a variation reduction technique, relegating most of the random noise to the trailing components while collecting systematic structure into the leading ones. Features summarizing variability may not directly be those that are the most useful. Further analysis is facilitated through linear subspace methods involving PC rotation and strategies of projection pursuit utilizing a reduced, lower-dimensional natural basis representation that retains most of the information. These properties will be illustrated in the setting of dynamic time-series response data from fMRI experiments involving pharmacological stimulation of the dopaminergic nigro-striatal system in primates.