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Gaming the Science system: How replication can be gamed in neuroimaging

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Following on fact that many anchor social science findings have not been replicated, we now hear from a new paper that “the way imaging results are currently analysed ‘allows presenting anything as a replicated finding.’” :

The provocative argument is put forward by YongWook Hong from Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea and colleagues, in a preprint posted recently to bioRxiv. The fundamental problem, say the researchers, is that scientists conducting neuroimaging research tend to make and test hypotheses with reference to large brain structures. Yet neuroimaging techniques, particularly functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), gather data at a much more fine-grained resolution.

This means that strikingly different patterns of brain activity could produce what appears to be the same result. For example, one lab might find that a face recognition task activates the amygdala (a structure found on each side of the brain that’s involved in emotional processing). Later, another lab apparently replicates this finding, showing activation in the same structure during the same task. But the amygdala contains hundreds of individual “voxels”, the three-dimensional pixels that form the basic unit of fMRI data. So the second lab could have found activity in a completely different part of the amygdala, yet it would appear that they had replicated the original result. Matthew Warren, “Widely Used Neuroimaging Analyses Allow Almost Any Result To Be Presented As A Successful Replication, Paper Claims” at BPS Digest

They tested that and came up with some dramatic variances. Remember that when you hear what neuroimaging supposedly shows about how people think.

Paper. (open access)

See also: “Motivated reasoning” defacing thes ocial sciences?

At the New York Times: Defending the failures of social science to be science Okay. So if we think that — in principle — such a field is always too infested by politics to be seriously considered a science, we’re “anti-science”? There’s something wrong with preferring to support sciences that aren’t such a laughingstock? Fine. The rest of us will own that and be proud.

What’s wrong with social psychology , in a nutshell

How political bias affects social science research

Stanford Prison Experiment findings a “sham” – but how much of social psychology is legitimate anyway?

BS detector for the social sciences

All sides agree: progressive politics is strangling social sciences

and

Back to school briefing: Seven myths of social psychology: Many lecture room icons from decades past are looking tarnished now. (That was 2014 and it has gotten worse since.)

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One Reply to “Gaming the Science system: How replication can be gamed in neuroimaging

  1. 1
    AaronS1978 says:

    Actually this is kind of a big deal especially given how often People try to say that we don’t have free will using fMRI’s and neural imaging to prove their point

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