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  • June 2, 2013
  • 12:08 PM

When Trick Questions Become False Memories

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Simply asking people whether they experienced an event can trick them into later believing that it did occur, according to a neat little study just out: Susceptibility to long-term misinformation effect outside of the laboratory Psychologists Miriam Lommen and colleagues studied 249 Dutch soldiers were deployed for a four month tour of duty in Afghanistan. [...]... Read more »

  • May 30, 2013
  • 06:04 AM

Looking Askance At Cognitive Neuroscience

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Yesterday, I read a paper that, to my mind, embodies what’s wrong with cognitive neuroscience: Changes in the Amygdala Produced by Viewing Strabismic Eyes I have no wish to attack the authors of the piece. This post is rather unfair on them: their paper is no worse than a hundred others, it’s just a clear case [...]... Read more »

Berberat J, Jaggi GP, Wang FM, Remonda L, & Killer HE. (2013) Changes in the Amygdala Produced by Viewing Strabismic Eyes. Ophthalmology. PMID: 23706702  

  • May 27, 2013
  • 09:56 AM

Fixing Science, Not Just Psychology

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Neuroskeptic readers will know that there’s been a lot of concern lately over unreproducible results and false positives in psychology and neuroscience. In response to these worries, there have been growing calls for reform of the way psychology is researched and published. We’ve seen several initiatives promoting replication and, to my mind even more importantly, [...]... Read more »

  • May 21, 2013
  • 05:51 PM

A Machine to Weigh the Soul

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Newly discovered papers have shed light on a fascinating episode in the history of neuroscience: Weighing brain activity with the balance The story of the early Italian neuroscientist Dr Angelo Mosso and his ‘human circulation balance’ is an old one – I remember reading about it as a student, in the introductory bit of a [...]... Read more »

Sandrone S, Bacigaluppi M, Galloni MR, Cappa SF, Moro A, Catani M, Filippi M, Monti MM, Perani D, & Martino G. (2013) Weighing brain activity with the balance: Angelo Mosso's original manuscripts come to light. Brain : a journal of neurology. PMID: 23687118  

  • May 19, 2013
  • 09:29 AM

Fantastic Distortions of Perception

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper in the journal European Neurology reports on a remarkable case of perceptual distortion that’ll please any connoisseur of neurogothic: A 48-year-old woman woke up one morning without knowing where she was. She recognized her husband and finally realized that she was at home, but reported that she felt that all surroundings appeared [...]... Read more »

  • May 12, 2013
  • 05:49 AM

Visualizing the Connectome

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Last year, I blogged about a new and very pretty way of displaying the data about the human ‘connectome’ – the wiring between different parts of the brain. But there are many beautiful ways of visualizing the brain’s connections, as neuroscientists Daniel Margulies and colleagues of Leipzig discuss in a colourful paper showcasing these techniques. Here, [...]... Read more »

Margulies DS, Böttger J, Watanabe A, & Gorgolewski KJ. (2013) Visualizing the Human Connectome. NeuroImage. PMID: 23660027  

  • May 7, 2013
  • 01:38 PM

Why Are Children Given Antipsychotics?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Prescriptions of antipsychotic (aka neuroleptic) drugs in North American children and adolescents have been rising rapidly in recent years. But why? Gabrielle Carlson of Stony Brook Children’s Hospital offers her thoughts in a brief paper: The Dramatic Rise in Neuroleptic Use In Children: Why Do We Do It and What Does It Buy Us? Carlson [...]... Read more »

  • May 3, 2013
  • 05:41 PM

Brain Voodoo Goes Electric

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Four years ago, neuroscientists became aware of an ominous-sounding manuscript entitled “Voodoo Correlations In Social Neuroscience”. This piece was eventually published under a more prosaic name but it still hit home, with nearly 500 citations so far. To me, this paper marked the start of a new era of ‘critical’ (in the proper sense of [...]... Read more »

  • April 27, 2013
  • 09:20 AM

The (sigh) Psychopath Brain

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Neuroscience has revealed that Lady Gaga’s song Born This Way is probably about a psychopath. Or something. HuffPo says - Psychopathic Brain ‘Lacks Basic Hardwiring’ To Feel Compassion, Research Suggests Meanwhile, the Daily Mail report - Is this proof evil killers are born not made? Psychopaths’ brains ‘lack basic wiring that triggers empathy’ Last week [...]... Read more »

  • April 18, 2013
  • 04:04 PM

fMRI: More Voxels, More Problems?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper could prompt a rethink of a technique that’s become very hot in neuroscience lately: Confounds in multivariate pattern analysis The authors are Princetonians Michael T. Todd and colleagues, and the method in question is multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA). I’ve written about this before and there’s a blog dedicated to it. MVPA searches [...]... Read more »

  • April 14, 2013
  • 09:56 AM

The Man With Uncrossed Eyes

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

“GB” is a 28 year old man with a curious condition: his optic nerves are in the wrong place. Most people have an optic chiasm, a crossroads where half of the signals from each eye cross over the midline, in such a way that each half of the brain gets information from one side of [...]... Read more »

  • April 8, 2013
  • 08:18 AM

Anonymity In Science – New Neuroskeptic Paper

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Six months ago, I proudly announced Blogging’s First Academic Paper. That was when Perspectives in Psychological Science became the first scientific journal to publish an article under a blogging pseudonym (an adaptation of this post). But while the blogging bit was new, many scientists have published work anonymously or pseudonymously before… as I explain in [...]... Read more »

Neuroskeptic. (2013) Anonymity in Science. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2013.03.004  

  • April 7, 2013
  • 05:45 AM

The Brain, Speaking In Tongues?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Glossolalia – ‘speaking in tongues‘ – is a practice best known in association with ‘Charismatic’ branches of Christianity. Practitioners, often as part of religious services, produce streams of speech which correspond to no known language. But could glossolalia sometimes be associated with a brain abnormality? Here’s an interesting case report: Temporal lobe discharges and glossolalia [...]... Read more »

Reeves, R., Kose, S., & Abubakr, A. (2013) Temporal lobe discharges and glossolalia. Neurocase, 1-5. DOI: 10.1080/13554794.2013.770874  

  • April 5, 2013
  • 08:16 AM

“Genetic Test for Autism” Criticized

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Last year, there was quite a bit of excitement over a “Genetic Test To Predict Risk for Autism”. The test was revealed in a paper in Molecular Psychiatry, by Australian researchers Skafidas and colleagues. The claim was that a statistical classifier could spot patterns of genetic variation that differed between people with autism and healthy [...]... Read more »

Belgard, T., Jankovic, I., Lowe, J., & Geschwind, D. (2013) Population structure confounds autism genetic classifier. Molecular Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1038/mp.2013.34  

  • March 26, 2013
  • 03:36 PM

Brain Activation: Does 2 2 = 4?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

An interesting Journal of Neuroscience paper just out argues that Spontaneous and Task-Evoked Brain Activity Negatively Interact. If true, this could be explosive, because a lot of neuroscience is built on the assumption that those two things don’t interact. So what’s going on? We know that the brain is active all of the time. Even [...]... Read more »

He BJ. (2013) Spontaneous and task-evoked brain activity negatively interact. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 33(11), 4672-82. PMID: 23486941  

  • March 25, 2013
  • 04:00 PM

Tea Party Brain Surgeon Wants To Shave You

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

I’m currently researching a piece on politics and neurosurgery, and I just came across this amusing snippet. David McKalip MD is a brain surgeon from Florida. He attained 15 minutes of infamy in 2009 when he deemed a virulently racially insensitive of Barack Obama to be “funny stuff” and emailed it to some Tea Party [...]... Read more »

McKalip D. (2013) Letter to the editor: shaving. Journal of neurosurgery, 118(3), 701-2. PMID: 23259824  

  • March 18, 2013
  • 06:07 AM

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: A Loud Warning

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is popular tool in neuroscience. A TMS kit is essentially a portable, powerful electromagnet, called a ‘coil’. Switching on the coil causes it to emit a magnetic pulse, and this magnetic field is strong enough to evoke electrical activity in the brain. So, by placing the TMS coil next to someone’s [...]... Read more »

  • March 15, 2013
  • 10:30 AM

When Does Depression Become A Disease?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

When does sadness cease to be a normal emotional response, and become a mental disorder? Can psychiatrists ‘draw the line’ between healthy and sick moods, and if so, where? An important new study offers an answer: When does depression become a disorder? Using recurrence rates to evaluate the validity of proposed changes in major depression [...]... Read more »

  • March 11, 2013
  • 01:20 PM

Is Food Addictive?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Can food be addictive? Is obesity sometimes a form of substance abuse?   In a new paper, neuroscientist and Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow, muses on ‘The Addictive Dimensionality of Obesity’ Volkow and her coauthors start out with a disclaimer – “we do not claim that obesity is the result [...]... Read more »

Volkow ND, Wang GJ, Tomasi D, & Baler RD. (2013) The Addictive Dimensionality of Obesity. Biological psychiatry. PMID: 23374642  

  • March 9, 2013
  • 12:06 PM

More Bad News For Voice “Lie Detection”

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

“Layered Voice Analysis” (LVA) is a controversial technology promoted as a tool for helping detect stress and other emotions by analysis of the human voice. According to the company behind the method, Nemesysco: LVA technology enables better understanding of your suspect’s mental state and emotional makeup at a given moment by detecting the emotional cues [...]... Read more »

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