Evidence for “Unconscious Learning” Questioned

By Neuroskeptic | July 3, 2015 8:55 am

Can we learn without being aware of what we’re learning? Many psychologists say that ‘unconscious’, or implicit, learning exists.

But in a new paper, London-based psychologists Vadillo, Konstantinidis, and Shanks call the evidence for this into question.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: papers, science, select, statistics, Top Posts

Did Parkinson’s Disease Influence Hitler?

By Neuroskeptic | June 30, 2015 4:14 am

A new paper from a group of American neurologists makes the case that Hitler suffered from Parkinson’s disease for much of his life, and that some of his most fateful decisions were influenced by the neurological disorder.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: history, papers, politics, select, Top Posts

Pharma Make The Most of A Negative Result

By Neuroskeptic | June 28, 2015 12:34 pm

A misleading piece of statistical rhetoric has appeared in a paper about an experimental antidepressant treatment. The study is published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. JAD is a respectable mid-ranked psychiatry journal – yet on this occasion they seem to have dropped the ball badly.

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The Ethics of Scientific Collaboration

By Neuroskeptic | June 21, 2015 7:34 am

In the wake of the Michael LaCour scandal, there’s a renewed debate over the degree to which scientists who published a paper with a co-author, who turned out to be a fraudster, ought to be held responsible.

dodgy_statistics1

If I agree to write a paper with you, based on your fake data, that I believe to be real, am I to blame for not detecting the fraud?

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: ethics, science, select, Top Posts

The Million Monkey Effect in the Brain

By Neuroskeptic | June 18, 2015 4:36 am

The ‘million monkey’ scenario is a well-known thought experiment. Supposing a million monkeys were randomly tapping at the keys of a typewriter. Would one of the monkeys eventually happen to type out the text of a Shakespeare play?

Over any realistic time scale, it turns out that the probability of them reproducing even one page of Shakespeare is rather small, although given an infinite amount of time (or infinite monkeys), the monkeys would succeed an infinite number of times.

mr-burns-monkeys-typewriters1-640x381-600x357

Being a neuroscientist, I wanted to explore what would happen if, instead of monkeys typing, we assumed that random letters were generated by the spike activity of human neurons.

Could a neuron be likened to a monkey with a typewriter? And if so, how long would we have to wait before one of the neurons in a human brain ‘typed’ a given text?

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: funny, select, Top Posts, Uncategorized

Data Duplication in 25% of Cancer Biology Papers?

By Neuroskeptic | June 16, 2015 3:54 am

25% of papers published in cancer biology journals contain signs of ‘data duplication’, which can be a sign of scientific errors or even misconduct.

That’s according to a remarkable paper just published in Science and Engineering Ethics by a Norwegian cancer researcher, Morten P. Oksvold.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: blogging, papers, science, select, Top Posts

The Strange World of “Reward Deficiency Syndrome” (Part 1)

By Neuroskeptic | June 10, 2015 5:39 am

JRDS

Yesterday a new scientific journal appeared on PubMed, the standard index of the biomedical literature. That journal is called the Journal of Reward Deficiency Syndrome (JRDS). The first issue is here, indexed on PubMed here. (EDIT: It seems the journal is not exactly indexed on PubMed, although the papers appear there. See end of post.)

I spotted JRDS yesterday. I soon noticed a few strange things about it.

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Your Brain Is Bigger In The Morning

By Neuroskeptic | June 8, 2015 5:07 pm

The brain shrinks over the course of the day, ending up smaller in the evening – before returning to its full size the next morning. That’s according to a neat new study based on an analysis of almost 10,000 MRI scans. It’s published today in Neuroimage.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: methods, papers, select, Top Posts

Magnetic Nanoparticles In The Brain and MRI

By Neuroskeptic | June 4, 2015 4:06 am

A new paper in the unconventional journal Medical Hypotheses raises concerns that MRI brain scans could be harmful.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: fMRI, papers, select, Top Posts

The Problem With Michael LaCour’s Rebuttal

By Neuroskeptic | June 1, 2015 4:12 am

The hottest story in science over the past couple of weeks has been the accusations of fraud against UCLA political science PhD student Michael LaCour.

The allegations were posted online on May 19th and they concern one of LaCour’s papers, published in Science, called When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality. On May 28th the paper was retracted on the request of LaCour’s co-author, Donald Green, but LaCour stands by the data and disagreed with the retraction.

There have been lots of twists and turns in this case – LaCour has admitted lying about some aspects of the data collection. In this post however I’ll focus on the data and on LaCour’s rebuttal to the original accusations, which he posted on May 29th.

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