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Comments on neurobiology, neuroimaging, and psychiatry from a skeptical neuroscientist.

Neuroskeptic
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  • December 20, 2014
  • 07:37 AM
  • 32 views

The Ethics of Joke Science

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

What happens when scientists publish papers that aren't meant to be taken seriously? Is ironic, satirical and joke science all in good fun, or can it be dangerous?



This is the question asked by Drexel University researchers Maryam Ronagh and Lawrence Souder in a new paper is called The Ethics of Ironic Science in Its Search for Spoof.

The British BMJ journal is known for an annual Christmas special issue filled with unusual articles. For example, two years ago they explored the questio... Read more »

Ronagh M, & Souder L. (2014) The Ethics of Ironic Science in Its Search for Spoof. Science and engineering ethics. PMID: 25510233  

  • December 19, 2014
  • 08:56 AM
  • 36 views

Head Motion Biases Brain Structural Scans

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A regular theme here at Neuroskeptic is the worrying issue of head movement during brain scans. We've seen that motion can alter measures of functional and structural connectivity, and that common approaches to dealing with this problem may be inadequate.


Now a new study reveals that even measures of the gross structure of the brain can be biased by excessive motion: Head motion during MRI acquisition reduces gray matter volume and thickness estimates.

Harvard neurologists Martin Reuter ... Read more »

  • December 14, 2014
  • 07:57 AM
  • 75 views

Increasing Rigor in Huntington’s Disease Research

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

The CHDI Foundation, a charitable organization who fund a lot of research into Huntington's disease, are interested in reforming the scientific process.


The story comes from a paper written by British neuroscientist Marcus Munafo and colleagues (the authors including CHDI staff) published in Nature Biotechnology a couple of months ago: Scientific rigor and the art of motorcycle maintenance.



Munafo et al. begin by pointing to the history of car manufacturing as an analogy for the scie... Read more »

Munafo M, Noble S, Browne WJ, Brunner D, Button K, Ferreira J, Holmans P, Langbehn D, Lewis G, Lindquist M.... (2014) Scientific rigor and the art of motorcycle maintenance. Nature Biotechnology, 32(9), 871-3. PMID: 25203032  

  • December 11, 2014
  • 07:37 AM
  • 32 views

Are Poetry and Psychosis Linked?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Is there a relationship between poetry and psychosis?

The idea that 'genius' is just one step removed from 'madness' is a venerable one, and psychiatrists and psychologists have spent a great (perhaps an inordinate) amount of time looking for correlations between mental illness and creativity.

Now a new British study has examined whether poets exhibit more traits of psychosis than other people. One of the authors is a published poet, Helen Mort.



The researchers recruited 294 poets i... Read more »

  • December 7, 2014
  • 06:48 AM
  • 53 views

Social Pain, Physical Pain: Different After All?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In a paper just published, a group of neuroscientists report that they've changed their minds about how the brain processes social pain. Here's the paper: Separate neural representations for physical pain and social rejection



The authors are Choong-Wan Woo and colleagues of the University of Colorado, Boulder. Woo et al. say that, based on a new analysis of fMRI brain scanning data, they've found evidence inconsistent with the popular theory that the brain responds to the 'pain' of social... Read more »

Woo CW, Koban L, Kross E, Lindquist MA, Banich MT, Ruzic L, Andrews-Hanna JR, & Wager TD. (2014) Separate neural representations for physical pain and social rejection. Nature Communications, 5380. PMID: 25400102  

  • December 5, 2014
  • 12:31 PM
  • 51 views

Prosopometamorphopsia: The Woman Who Saw Dragons

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A 52 year old woman suffered from a strange problem: she saw dragons wherever she looked.




Here's the medical case report in The Lancet: Prosopometamorphopsia and facial hallucinations from a team of researchers including the famous Oliver Sacks.
In July, 2011, a 52-year-old woman presented to our psychiatric outpatient clinic with a life-long history of seeing people’s faces change into dragon-like faces and hallucinating similar faces many times a day.
What does a dragon look like? A... Read more »

Blom JD, Sommer IE, Koops S, & Sacks OW. (2014) Prosopometamorphopsia and facial hallucinations. Lancet, 384(9958), 1998. PMID: 25435453  

  • December 4, 2014
  • 04:39 PM
  • 131 views

Psychiatry: End of the Road for “Endophenotypes”?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

An important new study could undermine the concept of ‘endophenotypes’ – and thus derail one of the most promising lines of research in neuroscience and psychiatry. The findings are out now in Psychophysiology. Unusually, an entire special issue of the journal is devoted to presenting the various results of the study, along with commentary, but […]
The post Psychiatry: End of the Road for “Endophenotypes”? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.
... Read more »

  • December 4, 2014
  • 04:39 PM
  • 48 views

Psychiatry: End of the Road for "Endophenotypes"?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

An important new study could undermine the concept of 'endophenotypes' - and thus derail one of the most promising lines of research in neuroscience and psychiatry.



The findings are out now in Psychophysiology. Unusually, an entire special issue of the journal is devoted to presenting the various results of the study, along with commentary, but here's the summary paper: Knowns and unknowns for psychophysiological endophenotypes by Minnesota researchers William Iacono, Uma Vaidyanathan, Sc... Read more »

  • November 26, 2014
  • 07:37 AM
  • 136 views

A Sex Researcher At A Furry Convention

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A report in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour describes an unusual field trip made by Canadian researcher Debra W. Soh – to a furry convention, expecting to witness some kind of sexual free-for-all (or free-fur-all). Soh opens by saying that I couldn’t wait to meet a furry, someone who adopts the identity or persona […]The post A Sex Researcher At A Furry Convention appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Soh DW, & Cantor JM. (2014) A Peek Inside a Furry Convention. Archives of Sexual Behavior. PMID: 25408500  

  • November 19, 2014
  • 02:39 PM
  • 76 views

Failed Replications: A Reality Check for Neuroscience?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

An attempt to replicate the results of some recent neuroscience papers that claimed to find correlations between human brain structure and behavior has drawn a blank. The new paper is by University of Amsterdam researchers Wouter Boekel and colleagues and it’s in press now at Cortex. You can download it here from the webpage of one […]The post Failed Replications: A Reality Check for Neuroscience? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Boekel, W, Wagenmakers, E-J, Belay, L, Verhagen, J, Brown, S, & Forstmann, BU. (2014) A purely confirmatory replication study of structural brain-behavior correlations. Cortex. info:/

  • November 15, 2014
  • 07:28 AM
  • 216 views

How Your Facebook Updates Reveal Your Personality

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

The words you use in your Facebook profile reveal much about your personality, according to psychologists Gregory Park and colleagues in a new study just published. Based on a study of 71,000 Facebook users who reported their personality using an app, Park et al. found some quite unexpected words to be associated with given personality […]The post How Your Facebook Updates Reveal Your Personality appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Park G, Schwartz HA, Eichstaedt JC, Kern ML, Kosinski M, Stillwell DJ, Ungar LH, & Seligman ME. (2014) Automatic Personality Assessment Through Social Media Language. Journal of personality and social psychology. PMID: 25365036  

  • November 12, 2014
  • 01:11 PM
  • 159 views

Do Rats Have Free Will?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

New research on the neural basis of ‘spontaneous’ actions in rats could shed light on the philosophical mystery that is human ‘free will’. The study, just published in Nature Neuroscience, is called Neural antecedents of self-initiated actions in secondary motor cortex. It’s from researchers Masayoshi Murakami and colleagues of Portugal’s excellently-named Champalimaud Centre for the […]The post Do Rats Have Free Will? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Murakami M, Vicente MI, Costa GM, & Mainen ZF. (2014) Neural antecedents of self-initiated actions in secondary motor cortex. Nature neuroscience, 17(11), 1574-82. PMID: 25262496  

  • November 6, 2014
  • 05:39 PM
  • 121 views

The Inherent Limits of MRI Tractography?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A popular neuroscience tool, diffusion MRI tractography, may fundamentally have limited accuracy. That’s according to a paper just published in PNAS: Anatomical accuracy of brain connections derived from diffusion MRI tractography is inherently limited The authors, Cibu Thomas and colleagues of Bethesda, Maryland, begin by explaining why diffusion MRI is so widely used The creation […]The post The Inherent Limits of MRI Tractography? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Thomas C, Ye FQ, Irfanoglu MO, Modi P, Saleem KS, Leopold DA, & Pierpaoli C. (2014) Anatomical accuracy of brain connections derived from diffusion MRI tractography is inherently limited. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25368179  

  • October 25, 2014
  • 01:54 PM
  • 69 views

Most Autistic People Have Normal Brain Anatomy

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper threatens to turn the world of autism neuroscience upside down. Its title is Anatomical Abnormalities in Autism?, and it claims that, well, there aren’t very many. Published in Cerebral Cortex by Israeli researchers Shlomi Haar and colleagues, the new research reports that there are virtually no differences in brain anatomy between people […]The post Most Autistic People Have Normal Brain Anatomy appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Haar S, Berman S, Behrmann M, & Dinstein I. (2014) Anatomical Abnormalities in Autism?. Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991). PMID: 25316335  

  • October 19, 2014
  • 07:24 AM
  • 81 views

Power Makes People Deliberate Less Over Emails

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

When it comes to emails, power makes people spend less time thinking and more time typing. So say German cyber-psychologists Annika Scholl and Kai Sassenberg in a new paper just published: Experienced Social Power Reduces Deliberation During E-Mail Communication In their study, they recruited 49 undergraduate students. Each participant was first randomly assigned to play […]The post Power Makes People Deliberate Less Over Emails appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • October 16, 2014
  • 04:18 PM
  • 231 views

Inherited Memories: Too Good To Be True?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In December last year, researchers Brian Dias and Kerry Ressler made a splash with a paper seeming to show that memories can be inherited. This article, published in Nature Neuroscience, reported that if adult mice are taught to be afraid of a particular smell, then their children will also fear it. Which is pretty wild. […]The post Inherited Memories: Too Good To Be True? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • October 13, 2014
  • 05:17 PM
  • 189 views

Emodiversity: A Mix of Emotions Is Healthiest?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

“Emodiversity” – a life containing a balance of different emotions – is good for you. So say psychologists Jordi Quoidbach and colleagues in a rather cool new paper (pdf). In two large surveys (with a total of over 37,000 responders), conducted in France and Belgium, Quoidbach et al. show that emodiversity is an independent predictor […]The post Emodiversity: A Mix of Emotions Is Healthiest? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Quoidbach J, Gruber J, Mikolajczak M, Kogan A, Kotsou I, & Norton MI. (2014) Emodiversity and the Emotional Ecosystem. Journal of experimental psychology. General. PMID: 25285428  

  • October 12, 2014
  • 02:11 PM
  • 204 views

What Really Drives Academic Citations?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Citations are today the international currency of the scholarly economy. In theory, academic citations are the gold standard measure of the ‘impact‘ of a piece of work. If it gets other academics talking then it’s important. But why do individual academics cite particular articles? A paper out now in the Social Studies of Science journal […]The post What Really Drives Academic Citations? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Erikson MG, & Erlandson P. (2014) A taxonomy of motives to cite. Social studies of science, 44(4), 625-37. PMID: 25272615  

  • October 4, 2014
  • 11:33 AM
  • 114 views

The Underwear Fetish Brain?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

According to a Japanese case report, a man developed a fetish for women’s underwear due to decreased brain blood flow. Here’s how neuropsychiatrists Koji Masuda and colleagues describe the patient: A 24-year-old male patient who was arrested for stealing underwear and referred to our hospital for evaluation. The patient had stolen women’s underwear on multiple […]The post The Underwear Fetish Brain? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Koji Masuda, Yoshinobu Ishitobi, Yoshihiro Tanaka, & Jotao Akiyoshi. (2014) Underwear fetishism induced by bilaterally decreased cerebral bloodflow in the temporo-occipital lobe. BMJ Case Rep. info:/

  • October 3, 2014
  • 04:01 PM
  • 192 views

Sleeping Brains Understand Words

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Have you ever heard someone describe a task as being so easy that they ‘could do it in their sleep’? A fascinating new study from a team of French neuroscientists shows that this statement may be literally true, far more often than you’d think: Inducing Task-Relevant Responses to Speech in the Sleeping Brain Sid Kouider […]The post Sleeping Brains Understand Words appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

Kouider S, Andrillon T, Barbosa LS, Goupil L, & Bekinschtein TA. (2014) Inducing task-relevant responses to speech in the sleeping brain. Current Biology, 24(18), 2208-14. PMID: 25220055  

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