3081315619 fe0647a5d8 z The elephant in the brain scanner

It’s another blow for neuroscience. The discovery of major software flaws could render thousands of fMRI brain studies inaccurate.

The use of fMRI is a common method for scanning the brain in neuroscience and psychology experiments. To make sense of the data produced, researchers sometimes use a technique called spatial autocorrelation to identify areas of the brain that appear to “light up” during particular tasks or experiences. But some software flaws in the popular fMRI data analysis packages SPM, FSL and AFNI meant this technique routinely produced false positives, resulting in errors 50 per cent of the time or more….

Read the rest of this article at New Scientist – the home of Brain Scanner, my weekly column. 

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Capture12 How Bad Science is Naturally Selected

Call it a crisis. Researchers are finding it harder to replicate each other’s findings, while the rate of retractions of published studies is rapidly rising. But why is this happening?

It’s difficult to determine to what extent the retraction trend is caused by more studies reporting false findings, and how much is down to the fact false findings are now more likely to be identified. Some speculate that the internet has made it far easier for scientists to scrutinise each other’s work, and plagiarism can now be detected automatically.

However, new research supports the idea that, in fact, we are encouraging poor scientific practices by accident….

Read the rest of this article at New Scientist – the home of Brain Scanner, my weekly column. Image: Giuseppe Donatiello

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brexit What explains Brexit, Trump and the rise of the far right?

To many, the rise of Donald Trump in the US and the UK’s vote to leave the European Union have come as a shock. It is feared that right-wing movements may now rise across Europe, including Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France. Why is the face of global politics changing so quickly, and could we have predicted this rightwards shift?

Read the rest of this article at New Scientist – the home of Brain Scanner, my weekly column. Image: Sam

 

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wine lipsticj How the size and shape of your glass affects how much you drink

How big is your glass? It’s well known that serving food and drink using larger crockery and glasses can make you consume more, but can bars and restaurants cash in on this trick, using it to make you buy more?

Read the rest of this article at New Scientist – the home of Brain Scanner, my weekly column. Image: Laura Lewis

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dreamland650 Do techniques for inducing lucid dreaming really work?

Ever realised you were dreaming, but still didn’t wake up? Around half of people have experienced a lucid dream – a state so exciting that it has led to a flourishing online community eagerly exchanging tips for how to induce it. But do any of these techniques work?

Read the rest of this article at New Scientist – the home of Brain Scanner, my weekly column. Image: Elisadc.

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