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 On May 28th the paper was retracted on the request of LaCour’s co-author, Donald Green, but LaCour stands by the data and disagreed with the retraction.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.
A new paper examines how the brain keeps track of positive and negative outcomes: No unified reward prediction error in local field potentials from the human nucleus accumbens
Following our nagging for late reviews, we learned that one reviewer had to take their cat to the vet, another was busy buying Christmas presents, one was planning their holidays, an unfortunate one had their office broken into […] others agreed to review whereas indeed they really intended to withdraw, or were just too busy to reply.
Last year I blogged about the creepy phenomenon of cyranoids. A cyranoid is a person who speaks the words of another person. With the help of a hidden earpiece, a ‘source’ whispers words into the ear of a ‘shadower’ , who repeats them. In research published last year, British psychologists Kevin Corti and Alex Gillespie showed that cyranoids are hard to spot: if you were speaking to one, you probably wouldn’t know it, even if the source was an adult and the shadower a child, or vice versa.
Neuroscientists might need to rethink much of what’s known about the amygdala, a small brain region that’s been the focus of a lot of research. That’s according to a new paper just published in Scientific Reports: fMRI measurements of amygdala activation are confounded by stimulus correlated signal fluctuation in nearby veins draining distant brain regions.
A provocative paper says that neuroscientists who research mental health problems ought to listen to the views of people who have experienced those conditions.
The piece, from Australian authors Anthony Stratford and colleagues, is published in The Psychiatric Quarterly.
The Fake Homunculus: A new book about sex depicts a beefed-up representation of the penis in the human brain
Everybody has once already seen a picture of the Sensory Homunculus – a humanized image of the relative amount of cerebral cortex space devoted to processing the tactile input from the different body parts. It appears grotesquely disfigured, because some parts like the lips or the hands commandeer disproportionately much cortical capacity.
But, Degen says, a new book claims that bashful scientists suppressed the truth about the enormity of the penis area of the cortex.
Back in 2012 I discussed an alarming paper showing very high rates of false positives in single-subject fMRI analyses. Swedish researchers Anders Eklund and colleagues had tested the performance of one popular software tool for the statistical analysis of fMRI data, SPM8.
But what about other analysis packages?
Now, Eklund et al. are back with a new study, which has not been published yet, but was presented last month at the International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging (ISBI). This time around they compared three popular packages, SPM8, FSL 5.0.7, and AFNI – and they show that all three produce too many false positives. Edit: the conference paper is available here.