bio-, chemo-, neuro-, eco-informatics… why no psycho-?

The latest issue of the APS Observer features a special section on methods. I contributed a piece discussing the need for a full-fledged discipline of psychoinformatics: Scientific progress depends on our ability to harness and apply modern information technology. Many advances in the biological and social sciences now emerge directly from advances in the large-scale acquisition, … Continue reading bio-, chemo-, neuro-, eco-informatics… why no psycho-?

a human and a monkey walk into an fMRI scanner…

Tor Wager and I have a “news and views” piece in Nature Methods this week; we discuss a paper by Mantini and colleagues (in the same issue) introducing a new method for identifying functional brain homologies across different species–essentially, identifying brain regions in humans and monkeys that seem to do roughly the same thing even if they’re … Continue reading a human and a monkey walk into an fMRI scanner…

does functional specialization exist in the language system?

One of the central questions in cognitive neuroscience–according to some people, at least–is how selective different chunks of cortex are for specific cognitive functions. The paradigmatic examples of functional selectivity are pretty much all located in sensory cortical regions or adjacent association cortices. For instance, the fusiform face area (FFA), is so named because it … Continue reading does functional specialization exist in the language system?

time-on-task effects in fMRI research: why you should care

There’s a ubiquitous problem in experimental psychology studies that use behavioral measures that require participants to make speeded responses. The problem is that, in general, the longer people take to do something, the more likely they are to do it correctly. If I have you do a visual search task and ask you to tell … Continue reading time-on-task effects in fMRI research: why you should care

the perils of digging too deep

Another in a series of posts supposedly at the intersection of fiction and research methods, but mostly just an excuse to write ridiculous stories and pretend they have some sort of moral. Dr. Rickles the postdoc looked a bit startled when I walked into his office. He was eating a cheese sandwich and watching a … Continue reading the perils of digging too deep

undergraduates are WEIRD

This month’s issue of Nature Neuroscience contains an editorial lambasting the excessive reliance of psychologists on undergraduate college samples, which, it turns out, are pretty unrepresentative of humanity at large. The impetus for the editorial is a mammoth in-press review of cross-cultural studies by Joseph Henrich and colleagues, which, the authors suggest, collectively indicate that … Continue reading undergraduates are WEIRD

functional MRI and the many varieties of reliability

Craig Bennett and Mike Miller have a new paper on the reliability of fMRI. It’s a nice review that I think most people who work with fMRI will want to read. Bennett and Miller discuss a number of issues related to reliability, including why we should care about the reliability of fMRI, what factors influence … Continue reading functional MRI and the many varieties of reliability

specificity statistics for ROI analyses: a simple proposal

The brain is a big place. In the context of fMRI analysis, what that bigness means is that a typical 3D image of the brain might contain anywhere from 50,000 – 200,000 distinct voxels (3D pixels). Any of those voxels could theoretically show meaningful activation in relation to some contrast of interest, so the only … Continue reading specificity statistics for ROI analyses: a simple proposal