The Neural Precursors of Spontaneous Thoughts

By Neuroskeptic | April 28, 2016 2:46 am

Back in 2013, I wondered if we would ever discover the neural basis of spontaneous thoughts. Why, I asked, do certain ideas just “pop” into our minds at particular times? Now a new paper published in Neuroimage, Canadian neuroscientists Melissa Ellamil and colleagues examines this issue.

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

More on Publication Bias in Money Priming

By Neuroskeptic | April 23, 2016 6:53 am


Does the thought of money make people more selfish? Last year, I blogged about the theory of ‘money priming’, the idea that mere reminders of money can influence people’s attitudes and behaviors. The occasion for that post was a study showing no evidence of the claimed money priming phenomenon, published by psychologists Rohrer, Pashler, and Harris. Rohrer et al.’s paper was accompanied by a rebuttal from Kathleen Vohs, who argued that 10 years of research and 165 studies establish that money does exert a priming effect.

First, compared to neutral primes, people reminded of money are less interpersonally attuned. They are not prosocial, caring, or warm. They eschew interdependence. Second, people reminded of money shift into professional, business, and work mentality.

Now, a new set of researchers have entered the fray with a rebuttal of Vohs.

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Could Molecular fMRI Revolutionise Neuroscience?

By Neuroskeptic | April 20, 2016 2:36 pm

In a new paper called Molecular fMRI, MIT researchers Benjamin B. Bartelle, Ali Barandov, and Alan Jasanoff discuss technological advances that could provide neuroscientists with new tools for mapping the brain.
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CATEGORIZED UNDER: fMRI, methods, papers, select, Top Posts

Spoof Papers And The Ethics of Academic Publishing

By Neuroskeptic | April 16, 2016 5:19 am

A Sokal-style hoax philosophy paper has triggered much debate over academic standards in the field.
bad_badiouThe intentionally nonsensical spoof article, signed by ‘Benedetta Tripodi’ but really the work of Philippe Huneman and Anouk Barberousse, was accepted and published by the journal Badiou Studies (“a multi-lingual, peer-reviewed journal”) which is devoted to the work of French philosopher Alain Badiou. It’s since been retracted. Cue hand-wringing.

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How To Avoid Neurohype

By Neuroskeptic | April 11, 2016 5:45 am

I’ve got a new article over at the Daily Dot: Why we’re living in an era of neuroscience hype. Check it out!


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CATEGORIZED UNDER: links, media, neurofetish, select, Top Posts

The Strange Rise of Neuromarketing

By Neuroskeptic | April 9, 2016 10:05 am

On Twitter, someone linked me to this: the Neuromarketing World Forum (NWF) 2016, which has just taken place in Dubai (which the conference organizers call “the Neuromarketing Capital of the World”). It was a three-day event dedicated to the application of neuroscience in the world of marketing and business. Attendees were taught about how brain science could help them understand what consumers want and how to sell to them more effectively.


But where, in all this, were the neuroscientists?

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Flexible Measures Are A Problem For Science

By Neuroskeptic | April 5, 2016 7:31 am

A fascinating new site called reveals the enormous variety of different ways which psychologists have devised to analyse the data from the same experimental task.


The competitive reaction time task (CRTT) is widely used as a research tool to probe aggression. Participants in the task are given the chance to lash out at ‘opponents’ by subjecting them to annoying blasts of loud noise.

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Statistics: When Confounding Variables Are Out of Control

By Neuroskeptic | April 2, 2016 10:38 am

Does ice cream cause drownings? Let’s think about this statistically. Consider that, in any given city, daily sales of ice cream are, most likely, positively correlated with daily rates of drownings.


Now, no matter how strong this correlation is, it doesn’t really mean that ice cream is dangerous. Rather, the association exists because of a ‘confound’ variable. In this case it’s temperature: on sunny days, people tend to eat more ice cream and they also tend to go swimming more often, thus risking drowning. The ice cream/drownings correlation would cease to exist once you take temperature into account. This means that ice cream has no ‘incremental validity’ over temperature: it doesn’t add anything to our ability to predict downing, above what we can predict from temperature.

Controlling for confounds is a widely-used technique in science. However, accordng to researchers Jake Westfall and Tal Yarkoni, there’s a major pitfall associated with the method. In a new paper, they warn that Statistically Controlling for Confounding Constructs Is Harder than You Think

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Rogue Editors at a Psychiatry Journal?

By Neuroskeptic | March 29, 2016 9:12 am


A group of Indian psychiatrists have raised concern over suspicious similarities between three papers published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine (IJPM). Their allegations have just been published, also in the same journal.
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CATEGORIZED UNDER: papers, PIE, science, select, Top Posts

Responses to Typos and Personality: “Grammar Nazis” Confirmed?

By Neuroskeptic | March 27, 2016 9:24 am

Do you haet typos? If you spot a grammo (a grammatical error), does you’re blood boil?

Some people are more offended by these kinds of linguistic errors than others, but why? Ann Arbor psychologists Julie E. Boland and Robin Queen examine this in a new PLOS ONE paper called If You’re House Is Still Available, Send Me an Email: Personality Influences Reactions to Written Errors in Email Messages

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: papers, select, Top Posts, Uncategorized, you


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