stories

img: Maurice van Bruggen
THE MEN WITH THE GOLDEN FINCH

the brains of three zebra finches are studied while they sing songs. each of the birds had different sequences & syllables in their song. activity in the brain's 'premotor cortex' reveals how these syllables may be strung together   [read more...]

this story was in episode #18. original article: Brown et al., 2021 (Public Library of Science Computational Biology), reported in: The Daily Mail by Ryan Morrison on 23rd September 2021 image source #bird #song #zebra #finch #electrode #syllable

rating: The Daily Mail: fact - scientific story reported well  


SOMATOSENSATIONAL

a nobel prize for the noblest of sensory systems - somatosensation - has been awarded to david julius and ardem patapoutian. the citation states: "for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch"   [read more...]

this story was in episode #18. reported in: The Scientist by Chloe Tenn on 4th October 2021 & The Independent by Andrew Griffin on 4th October 2021 & The Guardian by Ian Sample on 4th October 2021 #touch #pain #temperature #pressure #nobel

ratings: The Scientist: fact - scientific story reported well   The Independent: fair - scientific story mostly intact   The Guardian: fact - scientific story reported well  


BBC BREAKING: BAD SCIENCE

in the latest episode of the bbc's breaking: bad science, desperate users seek to calm their troubled minds with brain stimulation hardware. the bbc shamelessly promotes several companies trying to sell you this e-junk   [read more...]

this story was in episode #18. reported in: The BBC by Kitti Palmai on 11th October 2021 & Twitter by Vince Walsh on 11th October 2021 #brainhacking #headbands #smart #snakeoil

ratings: The BBC: fiction - no scientific story here   Twitter: fact - scientific story reported well  


GARDNER, MISHKIN, CHAUDHRI

neuroscience has lost three highly influential scientists: robert allen gardner, mortimer mishkin and nadia chaudhri   [read more...]

this story was in episode #18. reported in: The Washington Post by Emily Langer on 6th October 2021 & The Scientist by Lisa Winter on 5th October 2021 & The Scientist by Lisa Winter on 7th October 2021 #Gardner #Mishkin #Chaudhri



img: Allan H Frey
THE SPY WHO CAME IN TO BE COOKED

havana syndrome causes cia officers to hear sounds beamed into their brains from microwave guns operated by enemy spies. it's all backed-up by fifty-year-old research. bad research. bad, scant research.   [read more...]

this story was in episode #17. original articles: Frey, 1962 (Journal of Applied Physiology), Lin & , Wang, 2007 (Health Physics), Lubner et al., 2020 (Frontiers in Neurology), reported in: The BBC by Gordon Corera on 9th September 2021 & The Washington Post by Andrea RodrÍguez on 13th September 2021 image source #microwave #sound #pressure #hearing

ratings: The BBC: fudge - scientific story distorted   The Washington Post: fair - scientific story mostly intact  



img: Gábor et al. (2021)
SIT! LIE DOWN! STAY! FIXATE!

dogs in mri scanners listening to their owners' praising voice show larger activation in the auditory & learning-and-reward areas of their brain, as compared with listening to neutral or a stranger's voice. woof!   [read more...]

this story was in episode #17. original article: Gábor et al., 2021 (NeuroImage), reported in: The Daily Mail by Shivali Best on 8th September 2021 image source #dog #MRI #scanner #speech #social

rating: The Daily Mail: fact - scientific story reported well  


CONSCIOUSNESS IS NEARLY SOLVED!

in time for christmas, sussex professor anil seth has written a book about consciousness, self & reality. it has been reviewed widely in the media & is available from bookstores, both good & bad   [read more...]

this story was in episode #17. original article: Seth, 2021 (NeuroImage), reported in: The New Scientist by Anil Seth on 1st September 2021 & The Irish Times by Joe Humphreys on 16th September 2021 & The Guardian by Gaia Vince on 25th August 2021 #consciousness #self #book #tour



img: Henry Oldenburg
A JOURNAL FOR TRIAL AND ERROR

the new journal of trial and error gives scientists a platform to write about research errors, negative or unexpected results, and failed grant applications   [read more...]

this story was in episode #16. image source #journal #error #failure #reproducibility


THE NULL RITUAL OR: P, P, P, PLAGIARISM

each time science news publishes bruce bower's article about potential problems with pernicious p-values in psychology - in 1997, 2013, 2018 & 2021 - it gets a little bit worse   [read more...]

this story was in episode #15. original article: Piaget, 1979 (Annual Review of Psychology), reported in: Science News by Bruce Bower on 12th August 2021 & Twitter by Darren Dahly on 16th August 2021 #pvalue #statistics #selfplagiarism

ratings: Science News: fiction - no scientific story here  


A LITTLE ALCOHOL IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEART

a meta-analysis of nearly 50000 people's drinking habits & cardio-vascular health finds that drinking up to a bottle of wine a day is no worse for your heart than not drinking at all. tabloid gold!   [read more...]

this story was in episode #15. original article: Ding et al., 2021 (BMC Medicine), reported in: The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 27th July 2021 #alcohol #beer #wine #heart #metaanalysis

rating:



img: Charles Robinson
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE!

a review of numerical cognition research in the conversation was reported verbatim in the metro, referred to as 'study shows...' in the mirror & as 'study finds...' in the express. mad as a hatter!   [read more...]

this story was in episode #15. reported in: The Daily Express on 19th August 2021 & The Mirror by Emily Sleight on 9th August 2021 & The Metro by Silke Göbel on 30th July 2021 image source #alice #wonderland #numbers #rabbithole

ratings: The Daily Express: fiction - no scientific story here   The Mirror: fiction - no scientific story here  


MATHS PREDICTS DIVORCE

two newspapers use a decades-old story about maths & marriage to sell some pop-science brain-training nonsense, dragging tv's hannah fry & the error bar down yet another silly season rabbit hole   [read more...]

this story was in episode #15. reported in: The Daily Express by Leah Stanfield on 3rd August 2021 & The Mirror by Emily Sleight on 3rd August 2021 #marriage #divorce #maths

ratings: The Daily Express: fiction - no scientific story here   The Mirror: fiction - no scientific story here  



img: Youngeun Choi
MIRRORCLE NEURONS

a relatively sensible-sounding meta-review of the effects of action observation on neurological rehabilitation is blown wildly out of proportion by the media. it's a mirrorcle   [read more...]

this story was in episode #14. original article: Ryan et al., 2021 (Archives Of Rehabilitation Research And Clinical Translation), reported in: Irish News by Fiona MacRae on 8th July 2021 image source #mirrorneuron #stroke #rehab #metaanalysis

rating: Irish News: fudge - scientific story distorted  


PHYSICS EXPLAINS THE MIND

the daily express has lined up a series of male physicists to explain the mysteries of the human mind & brain. no psychologists or neuroscientists were available for comment   [read more...]

this story was in episode #14. reported in: The Daily Express by Sebastian Kettley on 9th July 2021 & The Daily Express by Sean Martin on 4th July 2021 #physics #mind #mystery #macho #ignorance

ratings: The Daily Express: fudge - scientific story distorted   The Daily Express: fudge - scientific story distorted  


EAT BISCUITS CHOCOLATE DOWN

the newspapers are all lining up to give free advertising space to a major biscuit manufacturer after an unidentified report released on world biscuit day revealed it's better to have the chocolate facing down   [read more...]

this story was in episode #14. reported in: The Sun by Julia Atherley on 15th July 2021 & The Mirror by Paige Holland on 9th July 2021 & Irish Mirror by Michelle Cullen on 9th July 2021 & The Daily Mail by Shivali Best on 8th July 2021 #chocolate #eating #biscuit #promotion #irony

ratings: The Sun: fudge - scientific story distorted   The Mirror: fudge - scientific story distorted   Irish Mirror: fudge - scientific story distorted   The Daily Mail: fudge - scientific story distorted  


HOBSON, LEWONTIN, LAKATOS (rest in peace)

neuroscience has lost three scholars: allan hobson, richard lewontin and peter lakatos   [read more...]

this story was in episode #14. original articles: Dietrich, 2021 (Nature), Obleser, 2021 (Nature Neuroscience), reported in: internet source by World Sleep Society on 12th July 2021 #AllanHobson #RichardLewontin #PeterLakatos


THE ERROR BAR TAKES A BREAK

after 14 episodes, a busy year, and a very busy week, the error bar hangs up his nit-picking tweezers for a few weeks while the british summer passes without note   [read more...]

this story was in episode #14. original article: Holmes, 2021 (Nature), #break #holiday #leave #downtime #metime



img: enago.com
THE LOSS OF CONFIDENCE PROJECT

in the loss-of-confidence project, scientists admit to & discuss the mistakes & poor practice that has led them to lose confidence in their previous work. a bold and inspiring move. more like this please   [read more...]

this story was in episode #13. original article: Rohrer et al., 2021 (Perspectives on Psychological Science), image source #error #mistake #confidence #phacking

rating:


'INCEPTION' IS A REALITY

40 researchers concerned about an advertiser's influence over our subconscious minds wrote an open letter mentioning the advertiser 16 times, linking to their you tube video & getting stories about them in the daily mail & science magazine   [read more...]

this story was in episode #13. original article: Moutinho, 2021 (Science), reported in: DxE on 29th June 2021 & The Daily Mail by Stacy Liberatore on 17th June 2021 #advertiser #dream #subconscious #DiCaprio

ratings: DxE: fair - scientific story mostly intact   The Daily Mail: fact - scientific story reported well  


MOTIVATIONAL MUSIC FIGHTS MENTAL FATIGUE

two studies of fit people in edinburgh find that listening to motivational music during physical speed & endurance tests counteracts the draining effects of mental fatigue. whistle while you work out!   [read more...]

this story was in episode #13. original article: Lam et al., 2021 (Journal of Human Sport and Exercise), reported in: The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 22nd June 2021 #exercise #music #fatigue #motivation

rating: The Daily Mail: fact - scientific story reported well  


AN APOLOGY

in episode #11 we referred to a study on brain imaging during football penalty taking using some quite strong language. following a complaint, we apologise & accept that the language used should have been much stronger   [read more...]

this story was in episode #12. #apology #football #penalty #choke #balls


HUMANS LEARN ECHOLOCATION

humans can learn to discriminate the sizes & orientations of nearby objects by making clicking noises with their mouths & listening to the echoes. it takes many hours of training, but performance can be remarkably good   [read more...]

this story was in episode #12. original article: Norman et al., 2021 (Public Library of Science ONE), reported in: The Daily Mail by Sam Tonkin on 2nd June 2021 #bat #echo #sound #perception #blindness

rating: The Daily Mail: fact - scientific story reported well  


NEWS IS BIASED IN PRINT & FAKE ONLINE

two papers report on the perception of bias in news media & the sharing of fake news on twitter. while people are biased & rapidly share fake news, bias can be reduced & people also share fake news corrections   [read more...]

this story was in episode #12. original articles: Litovsky, 2021 (Public Library of Science ONE), Murayama et al., 2021 (Public Library of Science ONE), #fakenews #twitter #bias #hostile #media

rating:


BRAIN CHEMICALS PREDICT MATHS CHOICE

a study of students who choose to study maths finds weak relationships with one of eight brain chemicals measured, having excluded lots of different kinds of data in many different ways. the effects in younger students were not replicated   [read more...]

this story was in episode #12. original article: Zacharopoulos et al., 2021 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), reported in: Irish News on 9th June 2021 & The Daily Mail by Sam Tonkin on 7th June 2021 & The Guardian by Sally Weale on 7th June 2021 #brain #maths #education #QRP

ratings: Irish News: fudge - scientific story distorted   The Daily Mail: fair - scientific story mostly intact   The Guardian: fair - scientific story mostly intact  



img: Knights et al. 2021
HAND BRAIN HANDLES TOOLS

the part of the brain dealing with images of hands also processes how to grab cutlery & the differences between grabbing cutlery & rods. hands & tools inter-digitate in the visual brain   [read more...]

this story was in episode #11. original article: Knights et al., 2021 (Journal of Neuroscience), reported in: Twitter by James Rosen-Birch on 13th May 2021 image source #hand #tool #FMRI #visual #grasp #decode

rating: Twitter:  


SCIENCE TAKES A DIVE

likely the worst brain imaging study ever published, researchers interested in football penalty-taking behaviour discarded 86% of their data, did 165 statistical tests, then mis-interpreted the results. in ten thousand words   [read more...]

this story was in episode #11. original article: Slutter et al., 2021 (Frontiers in Computer Science), reported in: The Daily Mail by Joe Pinkstone on 7th May 2021 #penalty #choke #football #FNIRS #QRP

rating: The Daily Mail: fudge - scientific story distorted  


MIRROR PHONE NEURONS FOR MISOPHONIA?

mirror neurons - brain cells involved in sensation & movement - have been implicated in two new studies, of phone-related-imitation & sound-related-irritation   [read more...]

this story was in episode #11. original articles: Maglieri et al., 2021 (Journal of Ethology), Kumar et al., 2021 (Journal of Neuroscience), reported in: The New Scientist by Christa Leste-Lasserre on 23rd April 2021 & The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 3rd May 2021 & The Guardian by Ian Sample on 24th May 2021 & The Daily Mail by Stacy Liberatore on 24th May 2021 #mirror #smartphone #misophonia #FMRI


A LITTLE ALCOHOL IS BAD AND GOOD FOR YOU

two preliminary reports excited the media into an alcoholic froth by claiming that even a small amount of alcohol is both good & bad for you. cheers!   [read more...]

this story was in episode #11. original article: Topiwala et al., 2021 (medRxiv), reported in: The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 19th May 2021 & The Independent by Vishwam Sankaran on 19th May 2021 & The Guardian by Natalie Grover on 18th May 2021 & The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 3rd May 2021 & You Tube by Kene Mezue on 7th May 2021 #alcohol #good #bad #health #brain #heart

ratings: The Daily Mail:   The Independent:   The Guardian:   The Daily Mail:   You Tube:  


ARE THE ZOMBIES COMING?

the ever-perplexing express created a story about zombies caused by brain-invading organisms being on the verge of existence. they're not, they don't, they won't. ignore   [read more...]

this story was in episode #11. #zombie #toxoplasma #mouse #cat #urine


GOODALL WINS PRIZE FOR PRIMATOLOGY

jane goodall, the astonishingly accomplished primatologist, receives the $1.5m templeton prize for her life's work on animal intelligence & humanity   [read more...]

this story was in episode #11. reported in: The Guardian by Harriet Sherwood on 20th May 2021 image source #JaneGoodall #primatology #hope #templeton


THE RUBBER HAND ILLUSION'S A DELUSION

a series of studies of the now-famous rubber hand illusion has cast doubt over whether it really measures the multi-sensory nature of bodily experience, or is rather more a hypnotic suggestion effect. the error bar finds out   [read more...]

this story was in episode #10. original articles: Lush, 2020 (Collabra), Lush et al., 2020 (Nature Communications), Ehrsson et al., 2021 (PsyrXiv), Lush et al., 2021 (PsyrXiv), reported in: University of Sussex by Neil Vowles on 11th April 2020 & Scientific American by Simon Makin on 21st October 2020 #hand #illusion #multisensory #suggestion


MISINFORMATION OVERLOAD

ten reviews & commentaries on the psychology of misinformation & the role of fake news in modern science were published this month. as a whole, they are a fabulous, enlightening resource - a must for your summer holiday reading list   [read more...]

this story was in episode #9. original articles: Scheufele et al., 2021 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), West & , Bergstrom, 2021 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), Yeo & , McKasy, 2021 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), Pennycook & , Rand, 2021 (Trends in Cognitive Sciences), #fakenews #backfire #scicomm #infodemic

ratings:


NEUROMYTHS PERSIST

neuromyths are popular but misleading claims about the brain. despite warnings from international organisations, they persist in education & elsewhere. if you see or hear a neuromyth, bust it!   [read more...]

this story was in episode #9. original article: Torrijos-Muelas et al., 2021 (Frontiers in Psychology), #neuromyth #fake #news #education

ratings:


NO EDUCATION LINK TO BRAIN SIZE & DECAY

separate studies find no link between education & age-related brain shrinkage in humans, & different relationships between brain size & body size during the evolution of mammals   [read more...]

this story was in episode #9. original articles: Nyberg et al., 2021 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), Smaers et al., 2021 (Science Advances), reported in: The Daily Mail by Ian Randall on 26th April 2021 & The Conversation on 28th April 2021 #education #atrophy #shrinkage #mammals

ratings: The Daily Mail: fair - scientific story mostly intact   The Conversation: fact - scientific story reported well  


NEW BRAIN DISEASE DISCOVERED

nearly 50 people have contracted a new neurological disorder over the past 5 years. all the cases are from new brunswick in eastern canada. sufferers experience rapid-onset dementia, hallucinations & other serious neurological symptoms   [read more...]

this story was in episode #9. reported in: The Globe and Mail on 18th March 2021 & Government of New Brunswick on 29th April 2021 #neurology #CJD #dementia #NewBrunswick

ratings: The Globe and Mail: fact - scientific story reported well   Government of New Brunswick: fact - scientific story reported well  


DEMENTIA LINKED TO SLEEP

mending its ways, the daily mail reports that sleeping for less than 6 hours over many years is associated with dementia in later life; but the express fails by linking an old study of mice to green tea and alzheimer's disease   [read more...]

this story was in episode #9. original articles: Sabia et al., 2021 (Nature Communications), Mori et al., 2019 (Journal Of Biological Chemistry), reported in: The Daily Mail by Ryan Morrison on 20th April 2021 & The Daily Express by Chanel Georgina on 25th April 2021 #sleep #tea #dementia #alzheimers #mice #olds

ratings: The Daily Mail: fact - scientific story reported well   The Daily Express: fudge - scientific story distorted  



img: Friedrich Miescher
Laboratory
FRIEDRICH BONHOEFFER (1932–2021)

professor friedrich bonhoeffer, who passed away in january 2021, studied the development of the visual brain in chickens & zebrafish, revealing how nerve cells follow chemical signals to find their targets in the embryonic brain   [read more...]

this story was in episode #9. original article: Baier, 2021 (Neuron), image source #axon #vision #retina #tectum #chicken


BRAIN EVOLUTION EXPLAINED

two studies on brain development & evolution caught the media's attention with flashy data & flashy claims about the relationships between humans, chimps & gorillas. if i understood, these are important pieces in a much bigger puzzle   [read more...]

this story was in episode #8. original articles: Benito-Kwiecinski et al., 2021 (Cell), Ponce de León et al., 2021 (Science), reported in: The Guardian by Ian Sample on 24th March 2021 & The Daily Mail by Stacy Liberatore on 25th March 2021 & The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 8th April 2021 & Science News by Charles Choi on 8th April 2021 & The Scientist by Abby Olena on 19th April 2021 #evolvution #parietal #occipital #frontal

ratings: The Guardian: fair - scientific story mostly intact   The Daily Mail: fair - scientific story mostly intact   The Daily Mail: fact - scientific story reported well   Science News: fact - scientific story reported well   The Scientist: fact - scientific story reported well  


FEEL THE GROOVE OF TOUCH

recording electrical signals in the arm's nerves, this heroic research discovers the limits of touch sensation in the fingertip. at just 0.4mm our sensitivity matches the width of the grooves in our fingerprints   [read more...]

this story was in episode #8. original article: Jarocka et al., 2021 (Journal of Neuroscience), reported in: The New Scientist by Christa Leste-Lasserre on 15th March 2021 & The Guardian by Nicola Davis on 15th April 2021 & Twitter by Andrew Pruszynski on 16th March 2021 #fingerprint #touch #maps #microneurography

ratings: The New Scientist: fact - scientific story reported well   The Guardian: fact - scientific story reported well   Twitter: fact - scientific story reported well  


IS EVERYTHING LINKED TO DEMENTIA?

the daily mail links three studies which have nothing to do with dementia to dementia. we're not sure why they are doing this, but they are. it's really very strange indeed   [read more...]

this story was in episode #8. original articles: Koblinsky et al., 2021 (BMC Geriatrics), Kamer et al., 2021 (Alzheimer's and Dementia), Dallas et al., 2021 (Scientific Reports), reported in: The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 16th April 2021 & The Daily Mail by Joe Pinkstone on 12th April 2021 & The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 14th April 2021 #dementia #teeth #housework #gas


WELCOME TO THE MUSK SHOW

rarely out of the headlines, the daily mail squeezes elon musk into three science stories this month. the error bar promises never to mention mr musk again   [read more...]

this story was in episode #8. original article: Simeral et al., 2021 (IEEE Transactions in Biomedical Engineering), reported in: The Daily Mail by Ryan Morrison on 9th April 2021 & The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 8th April 2021 & The Daily Mail by Stacy Liberatore on 2nd April 2021 #BCI #BrainGate #neuralink #dinosaur


THIS EPISODE'S NEURAL CORRELATES ARE...

everything we do involves the brain, so it is no surprise that horse-assisted therapy, inflamed sinuses, shamanic meditation & obsessive compulsive disorder all have their very own neural correlates   [read more...]

this story was in episode #8. original articles: Zhu et al., 2021 (Human Brain Mapping), Jafari et al., 2021 (JAMA Otolaryngology-- Head & Neck Surgery), Huels et al., 2021 (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience), Weeland et al., 2021 (Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry), #horse #inflammation #shamanism #OCD



img: Oran Maguire
BlueSci
MEN ARE FROM EARTH, WOMEN ARE FROM EARTH

a majestic review of over 600 brain imaging studies over 30 years concludes that men's brains are 11% bigger than women's because men are bigger than women. otherwise they're identical. dump the dimorphism!   [read more...]

this story was in episode #7. original article: Eliot et al., 2021 (Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews), reported in: The Daily Mail by Dan Avery on 8th March 2021 & Twitter by Lise Eliot on 20th April 2021 image source #sex #male #female #dimorphism #MRI

ratings: The Daily Mail: fact - scientific story reported well   Twitter: fact - scientific story reported well  


PEOPLE ARE SHALLOW WINE CONSUMERS

an oxford professor says that people's wine preferences are influenced by the colour, the label, the name, whether there's a cork, the lighting of the room & the background music. also partly by the taste & smell   [read more...]

this story was in episode #7. original article: Spence, 2020 (Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications), reported in: The Daily Mail by Victoria Allen on 13th March 2021 #wine #consumer #paradox #critter

rating: The Daily Mail: fair - scientific story mostly intact  


PIMPLE POPPING PLEASURE EXPLAINED

five psychologists put 80 women in a brain scanner & showed them videos of other people popping pimples. half found it enjoyable, half disgusting. the brain's frontal lobe seems to be responsible   [read more...]

this story was in episode #7. original article: Wabnegger et al., 2021 (Behavioural Brain Research), #pimple #disgust #enjoyment #pleasure


NEUROSCIENCE SOLVES GUN CRIME

psychologist drew westen selectively reviews evidence about mental health, brain development & violent gun crime in the usa. his conclusion that frontal lobe development stops gun crime is strong, but the evidence presented is weak   [read more...]

this story was in episode #7. reported in: The Washington Post by Drew Westen on 5th April 2021 #gun #control #development #frontal #lobe

rating: The Washington Post: fudge - scientific story distorted  


SUGAR CAUSES MEMORY LOSS (in rats)

the daily mail's claim that a sugary diet in childhood leads to memory problems is undermined by the study population (rats), the statistical power (poor) & the statistical analysis (poor)   [read more...]

this story was in episode #7. original article: Noble et al., 2021 (Translational Psychiatry), reported in: The Daily Mail by Joe Pinkstone on 1st April 2021 #rat #sugar #underpowered #fishing

rating: The Daily Mail: fudge - scientific story distorted  


MARY JEANNE KREEK (1937-2021)

pioneer of the development of methadone & other treatments for drug addiction, professor kreek studied the neurobiology & genetics of the brain with "boundless energy"   [read more...]

this story was in episode #7. reported in: The Scientist by Asher Jones on 31st March 2021 #drug #alcohol #methadone #addiction


CUTTLEFISH COGITION BETTER THAN CHILD'S

thescientist.com says cuttlefish match crows in delayed gratification, while the independent says crows beat a 5-year old child at puzzle-solving. transitive inference thus implies that cuttlefish are better than children at delayed puzzles   [read more...]

this story was in episode #6. original article: Schnell et al., 2021 (Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B: Biological Sciences), reported in: The Scientist by Asher Jones on 5th March 2021 & The Independent by Harry Cockburn on 13th March 2021 #cuttlefish #corvid #crow #child #delay #task

ratings: The Scientist: fact - scientific story reported well  


BINAURAL BEATS BEATEN BACK

a 2017 study of 'binaural beats' - an auditory phenomenon in which sounds appear to oscillate between the ears - was retracted after it was revealed that 48 of the original 88 datasets had not been included in the original report   [read more...]

this story was in episode #6. original articles: Colzato et al., 2021 (Experimental Brain Research), Colzato et al., 2017 (Experimental Brain Research), #retraction #beat #responder #phacking


OPEN SCIENCE IS CLOSING DOWN

the goals of open science - to improve access to the methods and results of science - are noble. from time to time, however, these goals are obscured by questionable open science practices - quosps. don't get stung   [read more...]

this story was in episode #6. reported in: Twitter by Curate Science (EP LeBel) on 16th March 2021 #openscience #bropenscience #QUOSP


PHYSICAL WARMTH IS INTERPERSONAL WARMTH

the quite interesting team tweeted "people are more likely to see the best in others if they interact with them while holding a cup of hot coffee". but this famous finding from 2008 was not replicated by a much much larger study   [read more...]

this story was in episode #6. original articles: Williams & , Bargh, 2008 (Science), Lynott et al., 2014 (Social Psychology), reported in: Twitter by Quite Interesting on 14th March 2021 ##warmth ##replicate ##fail ##interpersonal


MEGA MOOLAH FOR MIGRAINE MECHANISM

four neuroscientists have been awarded 10m danish kroner in the brain prize for decades of work on the role of neuropeptides in migraine. the short protein-like chemicals affect the brain's blood supply   [read more...]

this story was in episode #6. reported in: The Guardian by Linda Geddes on 4th March 2021 #migraine #headache #treatment #cause

rating: The Guardian: fact - scientific story reported well  


DO NOT USE SCI-HUB FOR FREE SCIENCE

in a coordinated information campaign across the news media, uk university students are warned not to use the website sci-hub to access millions of scientific research articles for free   [read more...]

this story was in episode #6. reported in: The Independent by Peter Stubley on 20th March 2021 & The BBC by Sean Coughlan on 20th March 2021 #scihub #pirate #publishing #science


THE BRAIN NEWS MERRY-GO-ROUND

about one thousand new brain science studies are published every week. so it is disappointing that news outlets seem to cover the same stories, re-hash, or re-present old ones. the error bar will aim to be the *second* to each brain story   [read more...]

this story was in episode #6. reported in: The Guardian by Natalie Grover on 4th March 2021 & The Daily Mail by Ryan Morrison on 8th March 2021 & The Telegraph by Joe Shute on 23rd March 2021 & The New York Times by Kim Tingley on 24th February 2021 #second #silver #runnerup #nearly #almost


EDITORIAL CHANGES AT THE ERROR BAR

as a brain science news outlet established in 2021, the error bar is updating its editorial policy, with a focus on open access stories. also: feedback from you, the made-up listener   [read more...]

this story was in episode #6. #editorial #policy #feedback #hashtag


THERE ARE NO GREEN STARS

astrophysics says there are no green stars. this is not a statement about stars, but about the human visual system. the error bar talks to an astrophysist and a psychophysicist to find out more   [read more...]

this story was in episode #5. original article: Harre & , Heller, 2021 (Astronomical Notes), reported in: Twitter by Jim Al-Khalili on 28th February 2020 & Wikipedia on 10th March 2021 #physics #colour #perception #psychology


PEOPLE CAN ANSWER QUESTIONS WHILE ASLEEP

the ability to communicate with researchers while asleep is an exciting prospect for brain science. 1 in 12 of the volunteers in this study might have been able to do it. sometimes. a bit   [read more...]

this story was in episode #4. original article: Konkoly et al., 2021 (Current Biology), reported in: Scientific American by Diana Kwon on 18th February 2021 & The Independent by Adam Smith on 23rd February 2021 & The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 18th February 2021 image source #sleep #EEG #lucid #stats #selection

ratings: Scientific American: fact - scientific story reported well   The Independent: fair - scientific story mostly intact   The Daily Mail: fact - scientific story reported well  


ARGUING BRAINS REVEAL SOMETHING, MAYBE

pairs of people had their brain activity recorded while taking turns to discuss controversial topics on which they agreed or disagreed. flaws in the experimental design render the results difficult to interpret. convince me otherwise   [read more...]

this story was in episode #4. original article: Hirsch et al., 2020 (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience), reported in: The Wall Street Journal by Susan Pinker on 11th February 2021 #fNIRS #agree #disagree #speech

rating: The Wall Street Journal: fair - scientific story mostly intact  


EXTREMISTS ARE WORSE AT COGNITIVE TASKS

dozens of cognitive tasks & questionnaires given to hundreds of people in online tests revealed strong relationships between cognitive performance & political, religious, & ethical views. how this relates to actual extremism is unknown   [read more...]

this story was in episode #4. original article: Zmigrod et al., 2021 (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, B: Biological Sciences), reported in: The Guardian by Natalie Grover on 22nd February 2021 #personality #extremism #conservatism

rating: The Guardian: fair - scientific story mostly intact  


WHAT'S GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN THIS WEEK

caffeine shrinks your hippocampus, but cocoa improves memory; laying too long in bed causes depression, but too short causes dementia; eating apples helps dementia, while singing in a choir helps you write contradictory tabloid headlines   [read more...]

this story was in episode #4. reported in: The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 18th February 2021 & The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 16th February 2021 & The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 12th February 2021 & The Daily Mail by Dan Avery on 12th February 2021 & The Daily Mail by Ryan Morrison on 18th February 2021 & by Johnathan Chadwick on 12th February 2021 #brain #fog #headline #contradiction


LESLIE UNGERLEIDER (1946-2020)

scientific journals and societies mourn the loss of the pioneering and productive scientist professor leslie ungerleider, who sorted out the primate visual system in 1982   [read more...]

this story was in episode #4. original articles: Behrmann, 2021 (Nature Neuroscience), Kastner, 2021 (Neuron), image source #vision #stream #dorsal #ventral #what #where


LANGUAGE LEAKS LOST LOVE

thousands of reddit users' posts were analysed for signs of their impending relationship break-ups. they were a bit less analytical than usual, & said 'i' and 'we' a bit more. love hurts.   [read more...]

this story was in episode #3. original article: Seraj et al., 2021 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), reported in: The Daily Mail by Shivali Best on 1st February 2021 & The Times by Rhys Blakely on 2nd February 2021 image source #breakup #male #reddit #dumped #loser

ratings: The Daily Mail: fudge - scientific story distorted  


LONELY BRAINS LOOK DIFFERENT

analysis of nearly forty thousand brain scans shows that adults who often feel lonely have structural and functional changes in parts of their brains sometimes associated with social interactions and mind-wandering   [read more...]

this story was in episode #3. original article: Spreng et al., 2020 (Nature Communications), reported in: The Globe and Mail by Eric Andrew-Gee on 9th February 2021 image source #loneliness #connectivity #default #rest

rating: The Globe and Mail: fact - scientific story reported well  


BEAUTY IS IN THE BRAIN. OR ISN'T

a meta-analysis of 49 brain imaging studies finds that different parts of the brain are involved in the appreciation of the visual beauty of arts and of faces. there's no 'beauty centre'   [read more...]

this story was in episode #3. original article: Chuan-Peng et al., 2020 (Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience), reported in: Scientific American by Jason Castro on 2nd February 2021 image source #art #beauty #faces #fMRI #meta-analysis

rating: Scientific American: fact - scientific story reported well  


LOVE IS IN THE (UNDERARM H)AIR

the brains of 18 single young men seem to distinguish between the armpit smells of 5 similar-age ovulating women & the smells of an older group of 5 pregnant women. why we need to know this is anyone's guess.   [read more...]

this story was in episode #3. original article: Habel et al., 2021 (NeuroImage), image source #ovulation #pregnancy #smell #odour #FMRI

rating:


THERE'S TOO MUCH BRAIN NEWS

there were way too many brain stories to cover in this episode. the error bar's limited capacity means all you'll get is this list...   [read more...]

this story was in episode #3. original articles: Fugazza et al., 2021 (Scientific Reports), Leipold et al., 2021 (Journal of Neuroscience), Goupil et al., 2021 (Nature Communications), Eyigoz et al., 2020 (EClinicalMedicine), Marselle et al., 2020 (Scientific Reports), Russ et al., 2021 (Journal Of Alzheimer's Disease), Portugal et al., 2021 (Scientific Reports), Power et al., 2021 (Psychological Medicine), Aydogan et al., 2021 (Nature Human Behaviour), Rahimi-Nasrabadi et al., 2021 (Cell Reports), reported in: The Times by Rhys Blakely on 27th January 2021 & The Independent by Tom Batchelor on 26th January 2021 & The Daily Mail by Ryan Morrison on 25th January 2021 & The Daily Mail by Ryan Morrison on 8th February 2021 & The New York Times by Gina Kolata on 1st February 2021 & The Independent by Joe Middleton on 26th January 2021 & The Daily Mail by Ryan Morrison on 3rd February 2021 & The Daily Mail by Ryan Morrison on 28th January 2021 & The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 26th January 2021 & The Daily Mail by Ryan Morrison on 28th January 2021 & Herald Sun by Noah Manskar on 3rd February 2021 & The Daily Mail by Shivali Best on 2nd February 2021 #overload #stimulation #verbosity


LEWIS WOLPERT (1929-2021)

professor of embryology, humanist, and science communicator lewis wolpert passed away in january 2021 having written an extremely influential and honest book on depression, malignant sadness   [read more...]

this story was in episode #3. reported in: The Guardian by Georgina Ferry on 29th January 2021 & The Telegraph by Telegraph Obituaries on 29th January 2021 image source #depression #sadness #obituary #embryology


ELECTROTHERAPY HELPS OBSESSIVE BEHAVIOUR

half an hour of weak electric brain stimulation for five days seems to decrease reports of obsessive and compulsive behaviours for three months, but is it too good to be true?   [read more...]

this story was in episode #2. original article: Grover et al., 2021 (Nature Medicine), reported in: The Daily Mail by Shivali Best on 18th January 2021 & Scientific American by Diana Kwon on 25th January 2021 image source #OCD #TACS #brainstim #brainhacking #reward

ratings: The Daily Mail: fudge - scientific story distorted   Scientific American: fact - scientific story reported well  


SLEEP CLEARS TOXIC THOUGHT FROM THE MIND (if you're a fly)

deep sleep can help to detoxify your brain, so long as it is accompanied by repeated back-and-forth movements of your nose every 3 seconds. and you need to be a fruit fly.   [read more...]

this story was in episode #2. original article: van Alphen et al., 2021 (Science Advances), reported in: The Daily Mail by Shivali Best on 21st January 2021 image source #fly #snout #sleep #toxins #proboscis

rating: The Daily Mail: fair - scientific story mostly intact  


MICHAEL LAND (1942-2020)

professor of neuroscience michael land passed away in december 2020 after a lifetime studying the vision of humans and many other animals   [read more...]

this story was in episode #2. reported in: The Guardian by Daniel Osorio on 19th January 2021 image source #vision #prawn #spider #sight #tea #scallop


MONKEY BUSINESS

long-tailed macaque monkeys in bali have learnt the value of tourists' possessions, systematically relieving them of the higher-value items to trade back for food. adults are better than juveniles   [read more...]

this story was in episode #2. original article: Leca et al., 2021 (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, B: Biological Sciences), reported in: The Independent by Samuel Osborne on 26th January 2021 #macaque #thief #barter #bali #tourism

rating: The Independent: fact - scientific story reported well  


BRAIN OMELETTE

physicists in pennsylvania, usa have been banging some hens eggs around to see how the yolk moves inside. some say this is a bit like how the brain moves around inside the head. don't try to find out.   [read more...]

this story was in episode #2. original article: Lang et al., 2021 (Physics of Fluids), reported in: The Daily Mail by Shivali Best on 19th January 2021 & The Telegraph by Dominic Penna on 20th January 2021 #eggs #helmet #skull #yolk #concussion


VEGETABLES FOR BRAIN HEALTH

broccoli & peppers may prevent parkinson's disease; eating a 'mediterranean' diet may only slow cognitive decline if you don't also eat lots of 'western' food (spoiler: not really)   [read more...]

this story was in episode #1. original articles: Agarwal et al., 2021 (Alzheimer's and Dementia), Hantikainen et al., 2021 (Neurology), reported in: The Daily Mail by Ryan Morrison on 7th January 2021 & The Daily Mail by Stacy Liberatore on 11th January 2021 image source #broccoli #vegetable #brain #degeneration

ratings: The Daily Mail: fudge - scientific story distorted  


URBAN LANDSCAPES SLOW YOU DOWN

looking at pictures of urban scenes while you walk slows you down by about 1 meter per minute relative to rural scenes. but a blank scene speeds you up three times as much   [read more...]

this story was in episode #1. original article: Burtan et al., 2021 (Royal Society Open Science), reported in: The Daily Mail by Victoria Allen on 6th January 2021 image source #city #urban #rural #distraction #walking

rating: The Daily Mail: fair - scientific story mostly intact  


AT LAST! COMPUTERS STILL CAN'T SEE

announcing the world's first "cognitive intelligence televisions", sony claims to have solved the problems of computer vision and hearing   [read more...]

this story was in episode #1. reported in: The Daily Mail by Shivali Best on 7th January 2021 #vision #hearing #computer #television

rating: The Daily Mail: fiction - no scientific story here  


CANNABIS IS A GATEWAY DRUG TO COCAINE (in adolescent male rats)

adolescent male rats walk around their cages more when given cocaine, if they had been given a cannabinoid drug the week before. but adult male rats didn't. some brain areas were affected too. nothing here about humans.   [read more...]

this story was in episode #0. original article: Scherma et al., 2020 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), reported in: The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 20th April 2020 image source #rat #cannabis #cocaine #gateway #prefrontal

rating: The Daily Mail: fudge - scientific story distorted  


BURGERS AND SAUSAGES CAUSE DEMENTIA

computer algorithms find associations between some types of foods which may be risk factors for dementia. but genes, diabetes, dieting & mental state were all more strongly linked to dementia.   [read more...]

this story was in episode #0. original article: Samieri et al., 2020 (Neurology), reported in: The Sun by John Sturgis on 22nd April 2020 & The Daily Express by Katrina Turrill on 23rd April 2020 image source #burgers #sausages #dementia #pizza #yoghurt

ratings: The Sun: fudge - scientific story distorted   The Daily Express: fudge - scientific story distorted  


WEARING DATA GLOVE BOOSTS CREATIVITY

the study found that people who were repeatedly woken up produced longer and less coherent story narratives than people who didn't sleep. differences in creativity were assessed by the experimenter alone and may be biased.   [read more...]

this story was in episode #0. original article: Horowitz, 2019 (Neurology), reported in: The Daily Mail by Harry Howard on 20th April 2020 #glove #sleep #creativity

rating: The Daily Mail: fair - scientific story mostly intact  


CORONAVIRUS CAUSES FREEZING BRAIN FOG

this is a single person's facebook post about a strange symptom after covid19 diagnosis.   [read more...]

this story was in episode #0. reported in: The Daily Express by Chanel Georgina on 17th April 2020 & The Mirror by Milo Boyd on 17th April 2020 #covid19 #brain #fog #facebook

ratings: The Daily Express: fiction - no scientific story here   The Mirror: fiction - no scientific story here  


SPACE FLIGHT SWELLS THE BRAIN

it may do, but there was no control group, & all the reported brain changes could have occurred up to 18 months before the astronauts went into space. perhaps intensive astronaut training programmes increases brain size?   [read more...]

this story was in episode #0. original article: Kramer et al., 2020 (Radiology), reported in: The Daily Express by Sean Martin on 17th April 2020 #space #astronaut #brain #volume

rating: The Daily Express: fair - scientific story mostly intact  


VITAMIN D CURES DEPRESSION

well, the evidence is mixed. and, in any case, the two studies mentioned in this 'news' story are over 12 years old.   [read more...]

this story was in episode #0. original articles: Armstrong et al., 2007 (Clinical Rheumatology), Jorde et al., 2008 (Journal of Internal Medicine), reported in: The Daily Express by Jessica Knibbs on 22nd April 2020 #vitamind #depression #systematicreview

rating: The Daily Express: fiction - no scientific story here  


SHY CHILDREN BECOME SHY ADULTS

the study found that infants who were 'inhibited' at 14 months old were more reserved 25 years later. but only 13% of differences in reservedness among the 109 volunteers were explained by this relationship.   [read more...]

this story was in episode #0. original article: Tang et al., 2020 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), reported in: The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 20th April 2020 #reserved #shy #inhibition #longitudinal

rating: The Daily Mail: fact - scientific story reported well