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Neuroskeptic
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  • April 15, 2015
  • 04:58 PM
  • 40 views

Autistic Traits Aren't Linked To Brain Anatomy?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

According to a large study just published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, there's no correlation between brain anatomy and self-reported autistic traits.





Dutch researchers P. Cedric M. P. Koolschijn and colleagues looked at two samples of young Dutch adults: an 'exploration' sample of 204, and a separate 'validation' group of 304 individuals.

Most of the participants did not have autism. The researchers looked for associations between various aspects of brain ... Read more »

  • April 11, 2015
  • 11:31 AM
  • 11 views

Brain Sarcasm Centre "Totally Found"

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new study published in the journal Neurocase made headlines this week. Headlines like: "Sarcasm Center Found In Brain's White Matter". The paper reports that damage to a particular white matter pathway in the brain, the right sagittal stratum, is associated with difficulty in perceiving a sarcastic tone of voice.





The authors,  studied 24 patients who had suffered white matter damage after a stroke. In some cases, the lesions included the sagittal stratum in the right hemisphere, and... Read more »

Davis CL, Oishi K, Faria AV, Hsu J, Gomez Y, Mori S, & Hillis AE. (2015) White matter tracts critical for recognition of sarcasm. Neurocase, 1-8. PMID: 25805326  

  • April 4, 2015
  • 05:52 AM
  • 33 views

Academic Journals In Glass Houses... (Updated)

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A psychiatry journal, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (JNMD), has just published a remarkable attack on another journal, Frontiers in Psychology. Here's the piece: it's by the JNMD's own Statistics Editor. In it, he writes that:
To be perfectly candid, the reader needs to be informed that the journal that published the Lakens (2013) article, Frontiers in Psychology, is one of an increasing number of journals that charge exorbitant publication fees in exchange for free open access to p... Read more »

  • April 2, 2015
  • 06:25 AM
  • 94 views

Did A Soviet Psychiatrist Discover Autism In 1925?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Who discovered autism? Traditionally, the priority has been ascribed to two psychiatrists, Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger, who both published independent but remarkably similar descriptions of the syndrome in 1943 - 44 (although Asperger had released a preliminary description in 1938.)




But according to a new paper in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, both Kanner and Asperger were scooped by nearly two decades - by a Soviet child psychiatrist, Grunya Efimovna Sukhareva. She described a syn... Read more »

Manouilenko I, & Bejerot S. (2015) Sukhareva - Prior to Asperger and Kanner. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 1-4. PMID: 25826582  

  • March 28, 2015
  • 09:35 AM
  • 49 views

The World at 7 PM: A Survey of Everyday Life

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In the Journal of Personality, a new study reports on the uniformity of human experience around the globe: The World at 7: Comparing the Experience of Situations Across 20 Countries


The research was an online survey of a total of 5447 people. Each participant was asked to think about what happened the previous evening at 7 pm. Then they were asked to describe the 7 pm scene by means of 89 statements (descriptors), which included things like: "Rational thinking is called for.", "Situation ra... Read more »

Guillaume E, Baranski E, Todd E, Bastian B, Bronin I, Ivanova C, Cheng JT, de Kock FS, Denissen JJ, Gallardo-Pujol D.... (2015) The World at 7: Comparing the experience of situations across 20 countries. Journal of personality. PMID: 25808415  

  • March 22, 2015
  • 06:52 AM
  • 119 views

Can Neuroscience Teach Us About Winemaking?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Modern winemakers may have erred when they switched to producing high alcohol wines. According to a new paper, from Spanish neuroscientists Ram Frost and colleagues, a low alcohol content wine actually produces more brain activity in 'taste processing' areas than more alcoholic varieties do.



But what does the brain really have to say about Beaujolais? Can scanning help us pick a Sauvignon? Will neuroimaging reveal the secret to a good... er... Nero d'Avola?



In their paper, publishe... Read more »

  • March 20, 2015
  • 06:19 PM
  • 116 views

Can Monkeys Get Depressed?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

According to a new study from Chinese neuroscientists Fan Xu and colleagues, some monkeys can experience depression in a similar way to humans.


The researchers studied cynomolgus monkeys, also known as crab-eating macaques (Macaca fascicularis), a species native to Southeast Asia. Cynomolgus monkeys are highly social animals. Xu et al. previously showed that isolating a monkey from its companions caused it to develop depression-like behaviors. In their new paper, the authors say that they'v... Read more »

Xu F, Wu Q, Xie L, Gong W, Zhang J, Zheng P, Zhou Q, Ji Y, Wang T, Li X.... (2015) Macaques exhibit a naturally-occurring depression similar to humans. Scientific reports, 9220. PMID: 25783476  

  • March 13, 2015
  • 02:05 PM
  • 122 views

To Apply Or Not To Apply For That Grant?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover



When should scientists apply for grants? Does spending more time writing applications pay off in the long run? A paper published in PLoS ONE this week examined the eternal question: To apply or not to apply?



The authors, Ted and Courtney von Hippel, start out by noting that most major grant awards are highly competitive - with success rates of just 20% in the case of US federal NIH and NSF awards. What's more, although decisions are made by a panel of expert judges, the evidence is th... Read more »

  • March 5, 2015
  • 03:01 PM
  • 141 views

Was Neuroscience's Most Famous Amnesiac, "HM", A Victim of Medical Error?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

According to a new paper, one of neuroscience's most famous case-studies came about as a result of a serious medical blunder.

Henry Molaison (1926 - 2008), better known as HM, was an American man who developed a dramatic form of amnesia after receiving surgery that removed part of the temporal lobes of his brain. The 1953 operation was intended to treat HM's epilepsy, but it had the side effect of leaving him unable to form new memories.



The consequences of HM's surgery are well known ... Read more »

  • March 2, 2015
  • 04:06 AM
  • 120 views

Single-Unit Recordings Reveal Limitations of fMRI MVPA?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) is an increasingly popular approach for analyzing the results of fMRI scanning experiments that measure brain activity. MVPA searches for patterns of activation that correlate with a particular mental state. This is called 'decoding' neural activity.

Now a new paper in the Journal of Neuroscience from Caltech neuroscientists Julien Dubois et al. reports that MVPA is unable to decode certain kinds of information, even though single-unit recordings confirm th... Read more »

Dubois J, de Berker AO, & Tsao DY. (2015) Single-Unit Recordings in the Macaque Face Patch System Reveal Limitations of fMRI MVPA. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 35(6), 2791-802. PMID: 25673866  

  • February 28, 2015
  • 04:34 AM
  • 118 views

What are the Unsolved Problems of Neuroscience?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In an interesting short paper just published in Trends in Cognitive Science, Caltech neuroscientist Ralph Adolphs offers his thoughts on The Unsolved Problems of Neuroscience.





Here's Adolphs' list of the top 23 questions (including 3 "meta" issues), which, he says, was inspired by Hilbert's famous set of 23 mathematical problems:
Problems that are solved, or soon will be:
I. How do single neurons compute?
II. What is the connectome of a small nervous system, like that of Caenorhabi... Read more »

Adolphs R. (2015) The unsolved problems of neuroscience. Trends in cognitive sciences. PMID: 25703689  

  • February 18, 2015
  • 04:24 PM
  • 76 views

Does Science Produce Too Many PhD Graduates?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In a new paper, a group of MIT researchers argue that science is producing PhDs in far greater numbers than there are available tenured jobs for them to fill.



The authors, engineers Richard C. Larson, Navid Ghaffarzadegan, and Yi Xue, start out by noting that
The academic job market has become more and more competitive... nowadays, less than 17% of new PhDs in science, engineering and health-related fields find tenure-track positions within 3 years after graduation.
But why? Are we simp... Read more »

  • February 6, 2015
  • 06:21 AM
  • 157 views

Who Are History's Heroes And Villains? A World Opinion Survey

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

How do people in different cultures view history? Around the globe, who are regarded as the best and worst historical figures? A new survey out now in PLoS ONE reveals the patterns of world opinion:  "Heroes" and "Villains" of World History across Cultures.



The researchers, led by Katja Hanke of Germany and James H. Liu of New Zealand, polled 6,902 university students from 37 different countries. In an anonymous survey, the participants rated 40 historical figures on a seven point scale f... Read more »

Hanke K, Liu JH, Sibley CG, Paez D, Gaines SO Jr, Moloney G, Leong CH, Wagner W, Licata L, Klein O.... (2015) "Heroes" and "Villains" of World History across Cultures. PloS one, 10(2). PMID: 25651504  

  • February 2, 2015
  • 04:18 PM
  • 133 views

Hennessy, Everclear, And Alcohol-Related Violence

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

What do Hennessy, Jack Daniels, and Everclear have in common? According to a rather fascinating new study, these three brands are especially popular with those teenage drinkers who get into booze-related fights.



In the new paper, researchers Sarah P. Roberts and colleagues of Boston say that some brands of alcohol are correlated with self-reported involvement in "alcohol related fights and injuries", in a national sample of American underage drinkers (i.e. drinkers under the age of 21).
... Read more »

  • January 28, 2015
  • 07:15 PM
  • 193 views

Team of Rivals: Does Science Need "Adversarial Collaboration"?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

When scientists disagree about something, what often happens is that the two sides of the argument form separate communities, with scientists collaborating with others on their "team" while avoiding working with their "opponents". But is there a better way?



A paper just published today presents the results of an experiment that was conducted as an 'adversarial collaboration'. This is where some researchers sit down with some members of the "other side" and agree upon a plan for a study to... Read more »

Matzke D, Nieuwenhuis S, van Rijn H, Slagter HA, van der Molen MW, & Wagenmakers EJ. (2015) The effect of horizontal eye movements on free recall: A preregistered adversarial collaboration. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144(1). PMID: 25621378  

  • January 24, 2015
  • 09:39 AM
  • 211 views

Urban Legends In The World of Clinical Trials

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Ethnographer Jill A. Fisher offers a fascinating look at the rumors and urban legends that circulate among the volunteers who get paid to take part in medical research: Stopped hearts, amputated toes and NASA




Fisher visited six clinical trial facilities across the USA. All of these facilities were exclusively devoted to running phase I trials, testing new drugs to see if they are safe in humans. She spent a total of 450 hours in the field, getting to know the 'guinea pigs', and the staf... Read more »

  • January 18, 2015
  • 08:29 AM
  • 245 views

Machine Learning: Exceeding Chance Level By Chance

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A simple statistical misunderstanding is leading many neuroscientists astray in their use of machine learning tools, according to a new paper in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods: Exceeding chance level by chance.



As the authors, French neuroscientists Etienne Combrisson and Karim Jerbi, describe the issue:
Machine learning techniques are increasingly used in neuroscience to classify brain signals. Decoding performance is reflected by how much the classification results depart from the... Read more »

  • January 11, 2015
  • 01:06 PM
  • 204 views

The Tragic History of Surgery for Schizophrenia

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A compelling article in the Journal of Medical Biography recounts the story of Bayard Holmes and Henry Cotton, two American "surgeon-psychiatrists" who believed that they could cure schizophrenia by removing parts of their patients' intestines (and other organs). Both men tested their theories on their own children - with tragic results. The article is by Jonathan Davidson of Duke University.





Holmes and Cotton had a theory to justify these extreme treatments: autointoxication - the id... Read more »

  • January 10, 2015
  • 05:52 AM
  • 222 views

Oxytocin: Two New Reasons For Skepticism

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new study offers two reasons to be cautious about some of the claims made for the role of the hormone oxytocin in human behavior.

The paper's out now in PLoS ONE from researchers James C. Christensen and colleagues, who are based at the US Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio. That the military are interested in oxytocin at all is perhaps a testament to the huge amount of interest that this molecule has attracted in recent years. Oxytocin has been called the "hug hormone", and is said to b... Read more »

  • January 8, 2015
  • 04:43 PM
  • 228 views

Subliminal Perception: Just How Fast Is The Brain?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Subliminal perception has long been a hot topic. The idea that something (generally an image) could appear and disappear before us so quickly that it escapes conscious perception, and yet affect us subconsciously, is a fascinating (and scary) one.

Psychologists and neuroscientists are fairly skeptical of any grand or sinister claims for the power of subliminal advertising or propaganda, but on the other hand, many of them use the technique as a research tool.

So what's the absolute speed l... Read more »

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