Blog Profile / Neuroskeptic

Filed Under:Academics / Neuroscience
Posts on Regator:698
Posts / Week:1.5
Archived Since:January 19, 2009

Blog Post Archive

Predicting Suicide: Return of a Scandal (Part 1)

I recently decided to revisit a 2014 case that regular readers might remember. Back in 2014, I posted about a terrible piece of statistical 'spin' that somehow made it into the peer-reviewed Journal of Psychiatric Research. The offending authors, led by Swedish psychiatrist Lars H. Show More Summary

"Facephenes": Brain Stimulation Creates Phantasmal Faces

Have you ever seen a face on a football? In a new paper, neuroscientists Gerwin Schalk et al. report that brain stimulation caused a man to experience strange hallucinations. The patient saw faces in everyday objects, including an orange soccer ball and a featureless box. Show More Summary

Do We Need An Adoption Service for Orphan Data?

Having recently left an academic post, I've been thinking about what will happen to the data that I collected during my previous role that remains unpublished. Will it, like so much data, end up stuck in the limbo of the proverbial 'file...Show More Summary

The Voodoo Curse of Circular fMRI Analysis

Remember the 'voodoo' fMRI controversy? Well, I just came across a new voodoo-ish paper - just in time for Halloween. The study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, comes from Franziska Plessow and colleagues of Boston. The main claim...Show More Summary

"Hyper Brains"? High Intelligence and Health

A few weeks ago I blogged about the idea that high-IQ people suffer from an inability to communicate with less gifted folk. Now, a new paper claims that very intelligent people are more prone to mental illnesses and allergies. However, I don't think the paper is very smart. Researchers Ruth I. Show More Summary

Problematic Neuropeptides And Statistics (PNAS)

Back in May I discussed a paper published in PNAS which, I claimed, was using scientific terminology in a sloppy way. The authors, Pearce et al., used the word "neuropeptides" to refer to six molecules, but three of them weren't neuropeptides at all. Show More Summary

A Parade of Scientific Mice

Recently I was reading a neuroscience paper and was struck by the cuteness of the two mice that formed part of Figure 1: So I decided to look further and collect a montage of scientific mice. All of these drawings are taken from peer-reviewed scientific papers. Show More Summary

Is Parkinson's A Prion Disease?

The Journal of Neuroscience recently featured a debate over the hypothesis that Parkinson's disease is, at least in some cases, caused by prions - misfolded proteins that spread from neuron to neuron. A prion is a protein that has taken...Show More Summary

"Happy Chemical" Discovered In Beer?

A curious flurry of headlines in praise of beer appeared this week: Beer really DOES make you happier! Key molecule boosts brain’s reward centre Drinking Beer Makes You Really Happy, Confirms Awesome New Study Drinking beer can makeShow More Summary

Is It Time To "Redefine Statistical Significance"?

A new paper in Nature Human Behaviour has generated lots of debate. In Redefine Statistical Significance, authors Daniel J. Benjamin and colleagues suggest changing the convention that p-values below 0.05 are called 'significant'. Instead,...Show More Summary

Vagus Nerve Stimulation Restores Consciousness?

A report that nerve stimulation was able to partially restore consciousness in a patient in a vegetative state has attracted a great deal of attention this week. The paper, published in Current Biology from French researchers Martina...Show More Summary

The Heavy Metal Brain

Get your earplugs ready because this post is metal. Last week, a group of neuroscientists published a paper reporting altered brain activity in heavy metal lovers. The paper raised a few eyebrows, not least for its statement that metal...Show More Summary

Can Neuroscience Inform Everyday Life? The "Translation Problem"

A new paper asks why neuroscience hasn't had more "impact on our daily lives." The article, Neuroscience and everyday life: facing the translation problem, comes from Dutch researchers Jolien C. Francken and Marc Slors. It's a thought-provoking piece, but it left me feeling that the authors are expecting too much from neuroscience. Show More Summary

Scientific Papers Are Getting Less Readable

"The readability of scientific texts is decreasing over time", according to a new paper just out. Swedish researchers Pontus Plaven-Sigray and colleagues say that scientists today use longer and more complex words than those of the past, making their writing harder to read. Show More Summary

Update on the Journal of Stem Cells

In April, I called attention to what I saw as serious ethical and scientific problems with a biomedical journal, the Journal of Stem Cells. Now, this publication has been removed from a leading journal index. I wrote in April that: I have discovered evidence of plagiarism in two papers in the Journal... Show More Summary

Should Research Funding Be Distributed Equally Among Scientists?

Instead of making scientists compete for grants based on project proposals, research funding could simply be divided equally among all 'qualified' researchers, according to a new paper. Authors Krist Vaesen and Joel Katzav argue that...Show More Summary

The Myth of The 30 IQ Point "Communication Range"

Earlier this week I tweeted a link to a Quora post which, I felt, was rather silly. The post was a response to the question "Are people with very high IQs generally happy?" and it answered in the negative: Let’s say high IQ is a blessing which comes with a terrible price. Show More Summary

The "Unbearable Emptiness" of Science on Twitter?

The discussion of scientific papers on Twitter is largely dominated by spam bots, paid content promoters, and "monomaniacs" obsessed with a single issue. That's according to researchers Nicolas Robinson-Garcia and colleagues in a new...Show More Summary

Eteplirsen: A Curious Scientific Controversy

In April 2016, an FDA committee voted not to recommend acceptance of eteplirsen, a drug designed to treat muscular dystrophy. In September, however, the FDA did approve the drug, following a heated internal debate. This wasn't the end of the story, however. Show More Summary

"R-Factor" Unlikely To Fix Science

A new tool called the R-factor could help ensure that science is reproducible and valid, according to a preprint posted on biorxiv: Science with no fiction. The authors, led by Peter Grabitz, are so confident in their idea that they've created a company called Verum Analytics to promote it. Show More Summary

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