Tuesday, September 22, 2009

MRI of emotions in a dead fish...

Even though this gem is making the rounds of the blogosphere it is worth pointing to again here. (This reminds me of my grandmother's answer to my "what do the people do here?" question as we were driving through small Texas towns. Her reply: "They take in each other's laundry." )

Bennett et. al. present a hilarious yet serious abstract showing different brain MRI responses as a dead salmon views pictures of people with different emotional expressions. It is a demonstration of the "multiple comparisons problem" - the fact that if you do a lot of different statistical tests, some of them will, just by chance, give interesting results. A multiple comparisons corrections can be applied, but many fMRI publications still report "uncorrected" results.

9 comments:

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  2. It's not on MRIs in particular, but there's a paper titled "Why most published research findings are false" by John Ioannidis that that talks about the publication of accidental correlations as research findings. He's particularly sceptical about data mining correlations with no supporting theory from off topic research. I haven't read the paper but there's an interesting interview (transcript or pod) at ABC Radio National's Health Report:

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/healthreport/stories/2008/2312092.htm

    [John P.A. Ioannidis. Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. PLoS Medicine August, 2005;2;8:696-700]

    Pretty well OT, but this paper (republished from Nature about 30 years ago) also came to mind:

    http://books.google.com.au/books?id=YrbanNOQ-bcC&lpg=PA14&ots=veopq1j41p&dq=N.%20S.%20Haile%20Ozymandias&pg=PA14#v=onepage&q=N.%20S.%20Haile%20Ozymandias&f=false

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  8. It is just weird that someone actually took the time to study this. I wonder how his findings will benefit the people around him.

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