Real Data Are Messy

By Neuroskeptic | November 27, 2015 6:29 am


Over at the sometimes i’m wrong blog, psychologist Michael Inzlicht tells A Tale of Two Papers.

Inzlicht describes how, as associate editor at the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, he rejected a certain manuscript. He did so despite the fact that the peer review reports had been very positive. The article reported 7 studies, all of which found nice, statistically significant evidence for the hypothesis in question.

So why reject it? Because, to Inzlicht, it was just too good to be true. Real data just aren’t that consistent, suggesting that the results had been made more consistent through p-hacking, selective reporting, or other biases. So he did not accept the paper, and told the authors his concerns.

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Do We Need A Neuroscience of Terrorism?

By Neuroskeptic | November 25, 2015 2:46 pm


In the Boston Herald, we read that

Little is currently known about the neurological pathways of terrorism – the inner workings of a brain that can justify random violence to promote an abstract, extreme belief… there has been no neuroimaging done to examine terrorist brain activity at play.

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The Problem of Selective Skepticism

By Neuroskeptic | November 22, 2015 9:32 am

What does it mean to be a skeptic? Can one be skeptical about one thing, and a true believer in something else? Or is selective skepticism not really skepticism at all?

dreamsThis is an issue that has been worrying me.

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Multiple Personalities, Blindness and the Brain

By Neuroskeptic | November 20, 2015 2:06 pm

A new paper reports the fascinating and perplexing case of a woman who reported that she was host to multiple personalities – some of whom were completely blind. The paper is called Sight and blindness in the same person: gating in the visual system, authored by German psychologists Hans Strasburger and Bruno Waldvogel.


The patient in this case, “B. T.”, aged 33, has a diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder (DID), a condition formerly known as multiple personality disorder (MPD). B. T. originally became blind (or seemingly so) following an accident at the age of 20. Her eyes were not damaged in the accident; instead, doctors attributed her loss of vision to brain damage: cortical blindness.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: EEG, mental health, papers, select, Top Posts

Meta-Neuroscience: Studying the Brains of Neuroscientists

By Neuroskeptic | November 15, 2015 6:34 am

How do neuroscientists’ brains work?

In a remarkable (and very meta) new paper, German researchers Frieder Michel Paulus et al. scanned some neuroscientists¬†(their own colleagues) using fMRI, to measure the brain response to seeing neuroscience papers. The study is out now in PLoS ONE:¬†Journal Impact Factor Shapes Scientists’ Reward Signal in the Prospect of Publication

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: fMRI, funny, papers, science, select, Top Posts

How Should Science Deal with Online Comments?

By Neuroskeptic | November 13, 2015 3:46 pm

COPE, an organization who issue widely-adopted best practice guidelines in science and scholarly publishing, recently issued a new set of advice for journal editors on responding to allegations of errors or misconduct posted online.


This is a hot topic at the moment, largely due to the rise of PubPeer, a (mostly) anonymous message board in which any scientist can comment on any published scientific paper. PubPeer has been responsible for the discovery of countless cases of fraud, data manipulation, and honest errors. Many journals have retracted papers on the basis of complaints first raised on the site. But a lot of scientists (and some journal editors) are unhappy about being criticized by people whose identities and qualifications are unknown.

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Reproducibility Crisis: The Plot Thickens

By Neuroskeptic | November 10, 2015 1:36 pm

A new paper from British psychologists David Shanks and colleagues will add to the growing sense of a “reproducibility crisis” in the field of psychology.

The paper is called Romance, Risk, and Replication and it examines the question of whether subtle reminders of ‘mating motives’ (i.e. sex) can make people more willing to spend money and take risks. In ‘romantic priming’ experiments, participants are first ‘primed’ e.g. by reading a story about meeting an attractive member of the opposite sex. Then, they are asked to do an ostensibly unrelated test, e.g. being asked to say how much money they would be willing to spend on a new watch.

There have been many published studies of romantic priming (43 experiments across 15 papers, according to Shanks et al.) and the vast majority have found statistically significant effects. The effect would appear to be reproducible! But in the new paper, Shanks et al. report that they tried to replicate these effects in eight experiments, with a total of over 1600 participants, and they came up with nothing. Romantic priming had no effect.

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A Brain At Rest? Thoughts and Feelings in the “Resting State”

By Neuroskeptic | November 4, 2015 4:41 am


Neuroscientists are increasingly interested in the brain’s “resting state” – the neural activity that goes on while people are doing nothing in particular.

But how restful is rest? What do people think about when they’re “resting”? Psychologists Russell T. Hurlburt discuss this issue in a new paper called What goes on in the resting-state? A qualitative glimpse into resting-state experience in the scanner

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: fMRI, methods, papers, select, Top Posts

Blinded Analysis For Better Science?

By Neuroskeptic | November 3, 2015 8:40 am


In an interesting Nature comment piece, Robert MacCoun and Saul Perlmutter say that “more fields should, like particle physics, adopt blind analysis to thwart bias”: Blind analysis: Hide results to seek the truth

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Medication for Schizophrenia: Less is More?

By Neuroskeptic | October 27, 2015 5:45 am


According to the New York Times (NYT) a week ago, a major new study found that lower doses of antipsychotics are better for the treatment of schizophrenia:

The findings, from by far the most rigorous trial to date conducted in the United States, concluded that schizophrenia patients who received smaller doses of antipsychotic medication and a bigger emphasis on one-on-one talk therapy and family support made greater strides in recovery over the first two years of treatment than patients who got the usual drug-focused care.

The paper, by John M. Kane and colleagues and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP), is called Comprehensive Versus Usual Community Care for First-Episode Psychosis and it presents the results of the NIMH “RAISE” study.

It’s an impressive paper. However, it’s not a paper about dose reduction. So the NYT‘s coverage was misleading.

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No brain. No gain.

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