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Neuroskeptic
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  • September 25, 2013
  • 06:22 AM
  • 758 views

Are Men’s Brains Just Bigger?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

The comparative anatomy of male and female brains is an incredibly popular topic. From teachers to cartoonists, everyone’s interested in it. One supposed dude-dame dimorphism is the width of the corpus callosum, the white matter bridge that connects the brain’s left and right hemispheres. Some studies suggest that women have a larger corpus callosum, relative [...]The post Are Men’s Brains Just Bigger? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • September 22, 2013
  • 02:50 PM
  • 605 views

Rethinking The Brain’s Mind Modules?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Neuroscientists are interested in how brains interact socially. One of the main topics of study is ‘mentalizing’ aka ‘theory of mind’, the ability to accurately attribute mental states – such as beliefs and emotions – to other people. It is widely believed that the brain has specific areas for this – i.e. social “modules” (although [...]The post Rethinking The Brain’s Mind Modules? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • September 19, 2013
  • 05:24 PM
  • 823 views

The Hydraulic Brain

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

People used to think that nerves were literally pipes, conveying impulses in the form of pressure waves of water. Even 100 years ago, this ‘hydraulic’ view was still influencing psychologists such as Freud, with his ideas about mental pressures building up inside the brain. Still, after physiologists Hodgkin and Huxley explained nerve conduction as an [...]The post The Hydraulic Brain appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • September 15, 2013
  • 07:25 AM
  • 534 views

Neuroskeptic Citations

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Over the past few months, this blog has been cited twice in peer-reviewed journals: here in a discussion about publication bias in industrial psychology, and again in a paper about publication bias in studies about breakfast. To cap it off, one of my tweets got quoted in this interesting-looking article about evolutionary psychology: We need [...]The post Neuroskeptic Citations appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • September 8, 2013
  • 07:58 PM
  • 571 views

Empathy + Placebo = Healing?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Psychotherapy, voodoo, and complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) are all cut from the same cloth; they are ‘healing methods’ that relieve symptoms because they provide two key things: empathy and the placebo effect (E&P). That’s according to Belgian physicians Mommaerts and Devroey in a new paper: From “Does it work?” to “What is it?” They say that, [...]The post Empathy + Placebo = Healing? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • September 7, 2013
  • 05:40 AM
  • 1,349 views

The Erogenous Zones of The Brain

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A paper just published in the journal Cortex discusses the nature of human erogenous zones: Reports of intimate touch The results cast doubt on a number of popular theories about this topic – including one from a leading neuroscientist. Oliver Turnbull and colleagues of Bangor University in the UK had 793 volunteers anonymously complete an [...]The post The Erogenous Zones of The Brain appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Turnbull OH, Lovett VE, Chaldecott J, & Lucas MD. (2013) Reports of intimate touch: Erogenous zones and somatosensory cortical organization. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior. PMID: 23993282  

  • September 2, 2013
  • 02:38 PM
  • 645 views

The Ethics of ‘Mini Human Brains’

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

You’ve probably already heard about the: Miniature ‘human brain’ grown in laboratory. The research, involving the growth of cerebral ‘organoids’ from human stem cells, was published in Nature on Wednesday. For some good coverage of the science behind this work, see Ed Yong’s piece here and the FAQ here. It’s not hard to see why [...]The post The Ethics of ‘Mini Human Brains’ appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • August 30, 2013
  • 12:27 PM
  • 558 views

MRI Killed The Radiotracer

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) was once the most powerful technique available for measuring localized human brain activity. By injecting a volunteer with a radioactive tracer, such as a glucose derivative, and monitoring the radiation emitted from the brain over the next few hours, neuroscientists could see where in the brain most glucose was being absorbed [...]The post MRI Killed The Radiotracer appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • August 29, 2013
  • 07:26 AM
  • 616 views

Training to De-Bias Teen Minds?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Spanish psychologists Itxaso Barberia and colleagues discuss an ambitious new program to train teenagers to better understand causality:  Implementation and Assessment of an Intervention to Debias Adolescents against Causal Illusions The problem is that we are bad at judging causality - Our cognitive system has evolved to sensitively detect causal relationships in the environment, as [...]The post Training to De-Bias Teen Minds? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • August 21, 2013
  • 01:32 PM
  • 912 views

Can You See Your Own Brain Waves?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

An intriguing new paper in the Journal of Neuroscience introduces a new optical illusion – and, potentially, a new way to see ones own brain activity. The article is called The Flickering Wheel Illusion: When Alpha Rhythms Make a Static Wheel Flicker by Sokoliuk and VanRullen. Here’s the illusion: It’s a simple black and white [...]The post Can You See Your Own Brain Waves? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Sokoliuk R, & Vanrullen R. (2013) The Flickering Wheel Illusion: When Alpha Rhythms Make a Static Wheel Flicker. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 33(33), 13498-504. PMID: 23946408  

  • August 15, 2013
  • 05:07 PM
  • 785 views

Antidepressant Use Peaks Just Before Divorce

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

People are almost twice as likely to be taking antidepressants or other psychotropic medication just before getting a divorce. This striking graph, from a new paper out of Finland, shows the data. The vertical bar represents the divorce date. The solid curve is the divorcees, and the other two are comparison individuals who were either [...]The post Antidepressant Use Peaks Just Before Divorce appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • August 13, 2013
  • 05:56 PM
  • 704 views

Brain Reading Reads “Brains” From A Reading Brain

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A neat paper from Schoenmakers et al of the Dutch Donders Institute reports on Linear reconstruction of perceived images from human brain activity It introduces a new mathematical approach for decoding (or ‘brain reading’) the image that someone is looking at, pixel-by-pixel, based on the pattern of neural activity in their visual cortex. The results [...]The post Brain Reading Reads “Brains” From A Reading Brain appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • August 11, 2013
  • 06:01 AM
  • 571 views

Amazing Images From Neuroscience’s “Hubble Deep Field”

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Thanks to newly-developed “super-resolution” microscopy techniques, a group of French neuroscientists have discovered a remarkable world of complexity on a tiny scale. Writing in the Journal of Neuroscience, Deepak Nair colleagues report that: Super-Resolution Imaging Reveals That AMPA Receptors Inside Synapses Are Dynamically Organized in Nanodomains Regulated by PSD95 Neurons communicate with each other via [...]The post Amazing Images From Neuroscience’s “Hubble Deep F........ Read more »

Nair D, Hosy E, Petersen JD, Constals A, Giannone G, Choquet D, & Sibarita JB. (2013) Super-Resolution Imaging Reveals That AMPA Receptors Inside Synapses Are Dynamically Organized in Nanodomains Regulated by PSD95. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 33(32), 13204-24. PMID: 23926273  

  • August 10, 2013
  • 06:41 AM
  • 728 views

Is Neuroscience Really Too Small?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Back in April a paper came out in Nature Reviews Neuroscience that shocked many: Katherine Button et al’s Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience It didn’t shock me, though, skeptic that I am: I had long suspected that much of neuroscience (and science in general) is underpowered – that is, [...]The post Is Neuroscience Really Too Small? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Button KS, Ioannidis JP, Mokrysz C, Nosek BA, Flint J, Robinson ES, & Munafò MR. (2013) Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience. Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 14(5), 365-76. PMID: 23571845  

  • August 7, 2013
  • 03:47 AM
  • 623 views

Why Brain Scientists Need To Keep Heart Failure In Mind

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

The Journal of Cardiac Failure is not usually high on my list of neuroscience sources, but a recent Letter to the Editor raises a very Neuroskeptic-al point: Heart Failure – An Identified but Largely Ignored Source of Errors in Postmortem Brain Volume Studies German researchers Hans-Gert Bernstein and colleagues write: We read with great interest [...]The post Why Brain Scientists Need To Keep Heart Failure In Mind appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • August 3, 2013
  • 04:02 PM
  • 627 views

How Brains Race to Cancel Errant Movements

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

You’re just about to put your hand on the hob of your electric cooker, when you remember that it was on full blast until five minutes ago, and will still be scalding hot. You try to stop yourself – but will you succeed? This kind of ‘stop!’ scenario is the subject of some most interesting [...]The post How Brains Race to Cancel Errant Movements appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Schmidt R, Leventhal DK, Mallet N, Chen F, & Berke JD. (2013) Canceling actions involves a race between basal ganglia pathways. Nature Neuroscience, 16(8), 1118-24. PMID: 23852117  

  • July 28, 2013
  • 08:24 AM
  • 834 views

Positivity: Retract The Bathwater, Save The Baby

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Last week I covered a new paper Brown et al (2013) in the journal American Psychologist. The article was strongly critical of a highly-cited paper that appeared in the same journal 8 years ago, Positive affect and the complex dynamics of human flourishing, by Barbara Fredrickson and Marcial Losada. See my original post – or [...]The post Positivity: Retract The Bathwater, Save The Baby appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Fredrickson BL, & Losada MF. (2005) Positive affect and the complex dynamics of human flourishing. The American psychologist, 60(7), 678-86. PMID: 16221001  

Fredrickson BL. (2013) Updated Thinking on Positivity Ratios. American Psychologist. DOI: 10.1037/a0033584  

  • July 20, 2013
  • 10:39 AM
  • 595 views

Homosexuality Doesn’t Spread Via Social Networks

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Worries over the possibility that gay people are seeking to promote or spread their orientation are common. Sometimes these fears are expressed openly, and take the form of conspiracy theories. Then again, they can be unspoken reservations. But what’s the truth? A new study reassures us that Same-Sex Sexual Attraction Does Not Spread in Adolescent [...]The post Homosexuality Doesn’t Spread Via Social Networks appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Brakefield TA, Mednick SC, Wilson HW, De Neve JE, Christakis NA, & Fowler JH. (2013) Same-Sex Sexual Attraction Does Not Spread in Adolescent Social Networks. Archives of sexual behavior. PMID: 23842784  

  • July 16, 2013
  • 07:04 PM
  • 748 views

“Positivity Ratio” Criticized In New Sokal Affair

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

British psychologist Nick Brown and two co-authors have just published an astonishing demolition of a top-ranked paper in the field of positive psychology: The Complex Dynamics of Wishful Thinking One of the authors of the critique is Alan Sokal, the physicist who, in 1996, famously wrote a parody of then-fashionable postmodernist theorizing and had it [...]The post “Positivity Ratio” Criticized In New Sokal Affair appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • July 13, 2013
  • 03:56 PM
  • 737 views

A New Kind of Peer Review?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Writing in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, a Dr Yvo Smulders of the Netherlands makes a proposal: A two-step manuscript submission process can reduce publication bias Smulder’s point is that scientific manuscripts should be submitted for peer review with the results and discussion omitted. The reviewers would judge the submission on the strength of the [...]The post A New Kind of Peer Review? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

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