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Medicine Science

This Is Your Brain On Magnets — Or Maybe Not 59

conspirator23 writes "Jon Hamilton of National Public Radio brings us a story about 'voodoo correlations' in fMRI studies that seek to learn more about emotional states, personality, and social cognition in the human brain. Many of us outside the scientific community have been treated to fascinating images of brain activity and corresponding explanations about how the images reveal which portions of the brain are engaged in certain kinds of thinking. But these images are not actual snapshots; they are visualizations of data generated by repeated scans during experiments. Flaws in the statistical methods used by researchers can result in false images with a variety of inaccuracies. Yet the images produced are so vivid and engaging that even other neuroscientists can be misled by them."
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This Is Your Brain On Magnets — Or Maybe Not

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  • Re:Really Useful? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by klazek ( 1134141 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @01:12PM (#28624719)

    Whether the BOLD signal truly correlates well with neural activity is still a matter of contention within the medical community

    True, and we should mention that the time resolution on fMRI is on the order of a second or two. This suggests also some significant time walk or smearing in the signal. The point is that minimum brain response time is quite a bit faster than this (a few tens of ms), and this is smaller than the resolution of fMRI.

    That being said, if you don't have brain pictures in your grant proposal, your chances of getting a cognitive science grant are greatly diminished. So everyone tries to find some way to use it, whether it makes sense or not.

  • by nerdup ( 523587 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @01:36PM (#28625149) Homepage
    Whoever tagged this story 'correlationisnotcausation' is a fucking idiot. You're not as smart as you think you are.

"In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be saved." -- Butler