Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is the workhorse of imaging-based human cognitive neuroscience. The use of fMRI is ever-increasing; within the last 4 years more fMRI studies have been published than in the previous 17 years. This large body of research has mainly focused on the functional localization of condition- or stimulus-dependent changes in the blood-oxygenation-level dependent (BOLD) signal. In recent years, however, many aspects of the commonly practiced analysis frameworks and methodologies have been critically reassessed. Here we summarize these critiques, providing an overview of the major conceptual and practical deficiencies in widely used brain-mapping approaches, and exemplify some of these issues by the use of imaging data and simulations. In particular, we discuss the inherent pitfalls and shortcomings of methodologies for statistical parametric mapping. Our critique emphasizes recent reports of excessively high numbers of both false positive and false negative findings in fMRI brain mapping. We outline our view regarding the broader scientific implications of these methodological considerations and briefly discuss possible solutions.
Dysfunction in dopamine signaling profoundly changes the activity level of about 2,000 genes in the brain’s prefrontal cortex and may be an underlying cause of certain complex neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, according to UC Irvine scientists.
Members of the Critical Neuroscience initiative raised the question whether the perceived normative significance of neuroscience is justified by the discipline’s actual possibilities. In this paper I show how brain research was assigned the ultimate political, social, and moral authority by some leading researchers who suggested that neuroscientists should change their research priorities, promising solutions to social challenges in order to increase research funds. Discussing the two examples of cognitive enhancement and the neuroscience of (im)moral behavior I argue that there is indeed a gap between promises and expectations on the one hand and knowledge and applications on the other. However it would be premature to generalize this to the neurosciences at large, whose knowledge-producing, innovative, and economic potentials have just recently been confirmed by political and scientific decision-makers with the financial support for the Human Brain Project and the BRAIN Initiative. Finally, I discuss two explanations for the analyzed communication patterns and argue why Critical Neuroscience is necessary, but not sufficient. A more general Critical Science movement is required to improve the scientific incentive system.
Every time you open your eyes, visual information flows into your brain, which interprets what you're seeing. Now, for the first time, MIT neuroscientists have noninvasively mapped this flow of information in the human brain with unique accuracy, using a novel brain-scanning technique.
Recently Stephen Hawking apparently said "I think the brain is like a programme in the mind, which is like a computer, so it's theoretically possible to copy the brain onto a computer and so provide a form of life after death.”...
Stress is contagious. Observing another person in a stressful situation can be enough to make our own bodies release the stress hormone cortisol. This is the conclusion reached by scientists involved in a large-scale cooperation project between the departments of Tania Singer at the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig andRead More
An international group led by Vanderbilt University researchers has found cannabinoid receptors, through which marijuana exerts its effects, in a key emotional hub in the brain involved in regulating anxiety and the flight-or-fight response. This is the first time cannabinoid receptors have been identified in the central nucleus of the amygdala in a mouse model,Read More
Zoe Williams: The idea that a child's brain is irrevocably shaped in the first three years increasingly drives government policy on adoption and early childhood intervention. But does the science stand up to scrutiny?