fMRI results under a cloud

Discussion in 'Why Science Is Wrong... About Almost Everything' started by David Bailey, Nov 22, 2018.

  1. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

    Oct 31, 2013
    When discussing consciousness, people often link to fMRI studies that are supposed to show this or that. However, there has been doubt for a long time as to whether these are reliable. Although this is over two years old, it is still worth reading:

    Here is an earlier, more technical report:

    I think we have to be very cautious about how much modern science is really reliable.

  2. Breven

    Breven Member

    Apr 5, 2016
    I agree that tools for neuroimaging such as fMRI, NIRS, and optogenetics have recently been linked to consciousness studies and should be studied further. Hopefully, scientific tools will be used to advance science and spark inquiry in this arena. Consciousness is difficult to define and understand in any scientific terms. Perhaps cognitive decoding will provide insight into the nature of consciousness in the future. Whether quantum filed theory or a mechanistic view is your jam, it can't hurt to explore using any tools available as long as we are aware that they are tools and not definitive facts.
    dpdownsouth likes this.
  3. malf

    malf Member

    Oct 30, 2013
    What are the implications for this paper?
  4. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

    Oct 30, 2013
    Good question, so I've asked Bernardo about it on his forum (see here:!topic/metaphysical-speculations/gE8ae_yiTKo).

    We'll have to wait and see what (if anything) he says, but the PDF technical critique that David posted says that all is not yet lost -- reanalysis using different and more reliable methods may help resolve the issue:

    "To sum up, then, we are led to conclude that a disturbingly
    large, and quite prominent, segment of fMRI research on emotion,
    personality, and social cognition is using seriously defective
    research methods and producing a profusion of numbers
    that should not be believed. Although we have focused here on
    studies relating to emotion, personality, and social cognition, we
    suspect that the questionable analysis methods discussed here
    are also widespread in other fields that use fMRI to study individual
    differences, such as cognitive neuroscience, clinical
    neuroscience, and neurogenetics.

    "Despite the dismal scenario painted in the last paragraph, we
    can end on a much more positive note. We pointed out earlier
    how investigators could have explored these behavioral-trait/
    brain-activity correlations using methods that do not have any of
    the logical and statistical deficiencies described here. The good
    news is that in almost all cases the correct (and simpler) analyses
    can still be performed. It is routine for researchers to archive
    large neuroimaging data sets (which have usually been collected
    at great cost to public agencies), and journals and funders often
    require it. Therefore, in most cases, it is not too late to perform
    the analyses advocated here (or possibly others that also avoid
    the problem of nonindependence). Thus, we urge investigators
    whose results have been questioned here to perform such analyses
    and to correct the record by publishing follow-up errata
    that provide valid numbers. At present, all studies performed
    using these methods have large question marks over them. Investigators
    can erase these question marks by reanalyzing their
    data with appropriate methods."​
  5. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

    Oct 30, 2013
    Here's Bernardo's response:

    "This is old stuff. In any case, the studies I cite entail a comparison between a placebo/control condition and an altered state of consciousness. Whatever inaccuracies there may be in the analysis, so long as it is done the same way for both conditions, it cancels itself out and the conclusion is still significant."​

Share This Page