Neuroskeptic , Neuroskeptic

758 posts · 715,369 views

Neuroskeptic
440 posts

Sort by Latest Post, Most Popular

View by Condensed, Full

  • May 28, 2017
  • 09:36 AM
  • 46 views

Unattractive People Are Seen As Better Scientists

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Good looking, sociable people don't make good scientists, according to popular stereotypes.

This is one of the findings of an interesting new study of how scientists are perceived, from British researchers Ana I. Gheorghiu and colleagues.


Gheorghiu et al. took 616 pictures of scientists, which they downloaded from the faculty pages at various universities. They gave the portraits to two sets of raters. The first group were asked to rate the attractiveness of the portraits and to say whet... Read more »

Gheorghiu AI, Callan MJ, & Skylark WJ. (2017) Facial appearance affects science communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 28533389  

  • May 24, 2017
  • 10:21 AM
  • 115 views

Unreliability of fMRI Emotional Biomarkers

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Brain responses to emotion stimuli are highly variable even within the same individual, and this could be a problem for researchers who seek to use these responses as biomarkers to help diagnose and treat disorders such as depression.

That's according to a new paper in Neuroimage, from University College London neuroscientists Camilla Nord and colleagues.



Nord et al. had 29 volunteers perform three tasks during fMRI scanning. All of the tasks involved pictures of emotional faces, which... Read more »

  • May 21, 2017
  • 07:55 AM
  • 134 views

A Survey of Our Secret Lives

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

What kinds of secrets does the average person keep? In a new paper, Columbia University researchers Michael L. Slepian and colleagues carried out a survey of secrets.



Slepian et al. developed a 'Common Secrets Questionnaire' (CSQ) and gave it to 600 participants recruited anonymously online. Participants were asked whether they'd ever had various secrets, at any point in their lives. The results are a monument to all our sins:

It turns out that extra-relational thoughts - meaning "thou... Read more »

Slepian, M., Chun, J., & Mason, M. (2017) The Experience of Secrecy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. DOI: 10.1037/pspa0000085  

  • May 17, 2017
  • 03:08 PM
  • 145 views

Paper About Plagiarism Contains Plagiarism

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Regular readers will know that I have an interest in plagiarism. Today I discovered an amusing case of plagiarism in a paper about plagiarism.

The paper is called The confounding factors leading to plagiarism in academic writing and some suggested remedies. It recently appeared in the Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association (JPMA) and it's written by two Saudi Arabia-based authors, Salman Yousuf Guraya and Shaista Salman Guraya.



Here's an example of the plagiarism: a 2015 paper by ... Read more »

  • May 8, 2017
  • 01:08 PM
  • 180 views

Neuropeptides and Peer Review Failure

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper in the prestigious journal PNAS contains a rather glaring blooper.

The paper, from Oxford University researchers Eiluned Pearce et al., is about the relationship between genes and social behaviour. The blooper is right there in the abstract, which states that "three neuropeptides (β-endorphin, oxytocin, and dopamine) play particularly important roles" in human sociality. But dopamine is not a neuropeptide.



Neither are serotonin or testosterone, but throughout the paper, Pea... Read more »

  • May 5, 2017
  • 02:53 PM
  • 119 views

Is "Allostasis" The Brain's Essential Function?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A paper just published in Nature Human Behaviour makes some big claims about the brain. It's called Evidence for a large-scale brain system supporting allostasis and interoception in humans, but how much is evidence and how much is speculation?



The authors, Ian R. Kleckner and colleagues of Northeastern University, argue that a core function of the brain is allostasis, which they define as the process by which the brain "efficiently maintains energy regulation in the body". Allostasis ent... Read more »

Kleckner, I., Zhang, J., Touroutoglou, A., Chanes, L., Xia, C., Simmons, W., Quigley, K., Dickerson, B., & Feldman Barrett, L. (2017) Evidence for a large-scale brain system supporting allostasis and interoception in humans. Nature Human Behaviour, 69. DOI: 10.1038/s41562-017-0069  

  • May 3, 2017
  • 02:42 PM
  • 152 views

How Can We Measure Human Oxytocin Levels?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Is oxytocin really the love and trust chemical? Or is it just the hype hormone? A new paper suggests that many studies of the relationship between oxytocin and behaviors such as trust have been flawed.





The paper is a meta-analysis just published by Norwegian researchers Mathias Valstad and colleagues. Valstad et al. found that the level of oxytocin in human blood, often used as a proxy measure of brain oxytocin, has no relation to central nervous system oxytocin levels under normal co... Read more »

Valstad M, Alvares GA, Egknud M, Matziorinis AM, Andreassen OA, Westlye LT, & Quintana DS. (2017) The correlation between central and peripheral oxytocin concentrations: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews. PMID: 28442403  

  • April 29, 2017
  • 07:55 AM
  • 158 views

New Human Rights for the Age of Neuroscience?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Do we have a human right to the privacy of our brain activity? Is "cognitive liberty" the foundation of all freedom?



An interesting new paper by Swiss researchers Marcello Ienca and Roberto Andorno explores such questions: Towards new human rights in the age of neuroscience and neurotechnology

Ienca and Andorno begin by noting that it has long been held that the mind is "a kind of last refuge of personal freedom and self-determination". In other words, no matter what restrictions might... Read more »

  • April 11, 2017
  • 08:08 AM
  • 76 views

The Landscape of Neuroscience 2006 - 2015

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

How has neuroscience changed over the past decade? In a new paper, Hong Kong researchers Andy Wai Kan Yeung and colleagues take a look at brain science using the tools of citation analysis.



Yeung et al. extracted data from 2006-2015 from Web of Science and Journal Citation Reports (JCR), which track publications and citations. All journals that the JCR classifies in the "Neurosciences" category were included.

The first change Yeung et al. noticed was that the number of published neuros... Read more »

  • March 27, 2017
  • 01:05 PM
  • 77 views

Cosmic Dopamine: On "Neuroquantum Theories of Psychiatric Genetics"

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Back in 2015, I ran a three part post (1,2,3) on Dr Kenneth Blum and his claim to be able to treat what he calls "Reward Deficiency Syndrome" (RDS) with nutritional supplements.

Today my interest was drawn to a 2015 paper from Blum and colleagues, called Neuroquantum Theories of Psychiatric Genetics: Can Physical Forces Induce Epigenetic Influence on Future Genomes?.



In this paper, Blum et al. put forward some novel proposals about possible links between physics, epigenetics, and neuro... Read more »

  • March 17, 2017
  • 05:29 PM
  • 336 views

Unethical "Stem Cell" Therapy for Autism In India?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

I just read a concerning paper about an experimental stem cell treatment for children with autism.





The authors are Himanshu Bansal and colleagues of India. The senior author, Prasad S Koka, is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Stem Cells where the paper appeared, which raises questions about whether the manuscript received a thorough peer review. Koka is actually an author on all five of the research papers published in that issue of the journal. But that's a minor issue compared ... Read more »

Bansal H, Verma P, Agrawal A, Leon J, Sundell IB, Koka PS. (2016) A Short Study Report on Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate Cell Therapy in Ten South Asian Indian Patients with Autism. Journal of Stem Cells, 11(1). info:/

  • March 15, 2017
  • 09:43 AM
  • 332 views

The Incredible Lesion-Proof Brain?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

How much damage can the brain take and still function normally? In a new paper, A Lesion-Proof Brain?, Argentinian researchers Adolfo M. García et al. describe the striking case of a woman who shows no apparent deficits despite widespread brain damage.



The patient, "CG", is 44 years old and was previously healthy until a series of strokes lesioned large parts of her brain, as shown below.

García et al. say that the damage included "extensive compromise of the right fronto-temporo-parie... Read more »

  • March 9, 2017
  • 07:18 AM
  • 264 views

Getting High Off Snakebites?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In a curious case report, Indian psychiatrists Lekhansh Shukla and colleagues describe a young man who said he regularly got high by being bitten by a snake.



The 21-year old patient sought treatment for his heavy drug abuse, which included heroin and marijuna. He also reported a less conventional habit: he visited a local snake charmer, where he was bitten on the lips by a "cobra" in order to get high:
He reported that his peers and the snake charmer informed him that he would have drows... Read more »

Shukla L, Reddy SS, Kandasamy A, & Benegal V. (2017) What kills everyone, gives a high for some-Recreational Snake Envenomation. Asian journal of psychiatry, 106-108. PMID: 28262128  

  • March 3, 2017
  • 03:48 PM
  • 351 views

Brain Activity At The Moment of Death

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

What happens in the brain when we die?



Canadian researchers Loretta Norton and colleagues of the University of Western Ontario examine this grave question in a new paper: Electroencephalographic Recordings During Withdrawal of Life-Sustaining Therapy Until 30 Minutes After Declaration of Death

Norton et al. examined frontal EEG recordings from four critically ill patients at the point where their life support was withdrawn. Here are some details on the four:



Here's the EEG recor... Read more »

Norton L, Gibson RM, Gofton T, Benson C, Dhanani S, Shemie SD, Hornby L, Ward R, & Young GB. (2017) Electroencephalographic Recordings During Withdrawal of Life-Sustaining Therapy Until 30 Minutes After Declaration of Death. The Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, 44(2), 139-145. PMID: 28231862  

  • February 20, 2017
  • 10:56 AM
  • 323 views

The Science of the Rorschach Blots

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

When the psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach blotted ink onto paper to produce a series of abstract patterns, could he have known that nearly 100 years later, the Rorschach test would be a household name?



Although the use of the Rorschach to diagnose mental illness is mostly a thing of the past, research on the test continues. Last week, two new papers were published on the Rorschach blots, including a fractal analysis of the images themselves and a brain scanning study using fMRI.



The ... Read more »

Taylor RP, Martin TP, Montgomery RD, Smith JH, Micolich AP, Boydston C, Scannell BC, Fairbanks MS, & Spehar B. (2017) Seeing shapes in seemingly random spatial patterns: Fractal analysis of Rorschach inkblots. PloS one, 12(2). PMID: 28196082  

  • February 17, 2017
  • 03:03 PM
  • 368 views

The Fantasy of Connecting Two Spinal Cords

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A peculiar new paper proposes the idea of "connecting two spinal cords as a way of sharing information between two brains". The author is Portuguese psychiatrist Amílcar Silva-dos-Santos and the paper appears in Frontiers in Psychology.



Frontiers are a publisher with a troubled history of publishing dubious science. But this paper is unusual, even by Frontiers' standards, because it contains virtually no science at all.

In a nutshell, Silva-Dos-Santos suggests that it would be interest... Read more »

  • January 31, 2017
  • 07:12 AM
  • 967 views

Split Brain, Undivided Consciousness?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper challenges a decades-old theory in neuroscience: Split brain: divided perception but undivided consciousness



According to the famous work of Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga, "split brain" patients seem to experience a split in consciousness: the left and the right side of their brain can independently become aware of, and respond, to stimuli. Split brain patients are those who underwent surgery to sever the corpus callosum, the nerve tract connecting the two hemispheres of ... Read more »

Pinto Y, Neville DA, Otten M, Corballis PM, Lamme VA, de Haan EH, Foschi N, & Fabri M. (2017) Split brain: divided perception but undivided consciousness. Brain : a journal of neurology. PMID: 28122878  

  • January 28, 2017
  • 03:28 AM
  • 778 views

When You're Drowsy, Is Your Brain Partly Asleep?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

When we're feeling very tired, we sometimes remark that we're "half-asleep". But is this more than just a figure of speech? A new paper suggests that parts of our brain may actually 'fall asleep' even while we're still awake.



According to researchers Jeremy D. Slater and colleagues of the University of Texas, "local sleep" occurs throughout the human brain, with each brain region passing into and out of a sleep-like state over time. What's more, local sleep becomes more and more common in... Read more »

Slater JD, Chelaru MI, Hansen BJ, Beaman C, Kalamangalam G, Tandon N, & Dragoi V. (2017) Focal Changes to Human Electrocorticography With Drowsiness: A Novel Measure of Local Sleep. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. PMID: 28121257  

  • January 16, 2017
  • 04:29 PM
  • 558 views

Op, Op, Op. The Neuroscience of Gangnam Style?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

"Our results revealed characteristic patterns of brain activity associated with Gangnam Style". So say the authors of a new paper called Neural correlates of the popular music phenomenon.



The authors, Qiaozhen Chen et al. from Zhejiang in China, used fMRI to record brain activity while 15 volunteers listened to two musical pieces: Psy's 'Gangnam Style' and a "light music" control, Richard Clayderman's piano piece 'A Comme Amour'.

Chen et al. say that Gangnam Style was associated with "... Read more »

Chen Q, Zhang Y, Hou H, Du F, Wu S, Chen L, Shen Y, Chao F, Chung JK, Zhang H.... (2017) Neural correlates of the popular music phenomenon: evidence from functional MRI and PET imaging. European journal of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging. PMID: 28083689  

  • January 14, 2017
  • 11:53 AM
  • 588 views

What Can fMRI Tell Us About Mental Illness?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A remarkable and troubling new paper: Addressing reverse inference in psychiatric neuroimaging: Meta-analyses of task-related brain activation in common mental disorders



Icahn School of Medicine researchers Emma Sprooten and colleagues carried out an ambitious task: to pull together the results of every fMRI study which has compared task-related brain activation in people with a mental illness and healthy controls.

Sprooten et al.'s analysis included 537 studies with a total of 21,427 ... Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use ResearchBlogging.org to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SRI Technology.

To learn more, visit http://selfregulationinstitute.org/.