fMRI results under a cloud

#1
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:

https://ideas.ted.com/much-of-what-we-know-about-the-brain-may-be-wrong-the-problem-with-fmri/

Here is an earlier, more technical report:

https://www.edvul.com/pdf/VulHarrisWinkielmanPashler-PPS-2009.pdf

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

David
 
#2
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.
 
#3
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:

https://ideas.ted.com/much-of-what-we-know-about-the-brain-may-be-wrong-the-problem-with-fmri/

Here is an earlier, more technical report:

https://www.edvul.com/pdf/VulHarrisWinkielmanPashler-PPS-2009.pdf

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

David
What are the implications for this paper?

http://jcn.cognethic.org/jcnv4i2_Kastrup.pdf
 
#4
Good question, so I've asked Bernardo about it on his forum (see here: https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!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
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."​
 
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