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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Neuroscience: "Social neuroscience" is down for the count

This just in from the British Psychological Society Research Digest Blog:
The brain imaging community is about to experience another shockwave, just days after the online leak of a paper that challenged many of the brain-behaviour correlations reported in respected social neuroscience journals.
Social neuroscience (which I take to be a classic example of false knowledge) depends in large part on measured changes in blood flow. However,
The interpretation of human brain imaging experiments is founded on the idea that changes in blood flow reflect parallel changes in neuronal activity. This important new study shows that blood flow changes can be anticipatory and completely unconnected to any localised neuronal activity. It's up to future research to find out which brain areas and cognitive mechanisms are controlling this anticipatory blood flow. As the researchers said, their finding points to a "novel anticipatory brain mechanism."

Writing a commentary on this paper in the same journal issue, David Leopold at the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, said the findings were "sure to raise eyebrows among the human fMRI research community."
If anyone went to jail over "social neuroscience" findings, I hope they get released soon, and sue the government. Whatever happened to science that was cautious? Science should always be cautious, especially in areas like this.

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose.

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