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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Correlations in Social Neuroscience

Via Mind Hacks, an overview of and a pointer to an MIT paper on the validity of statistical correlations between fMRI brain activity and reported human behavior. This is a meta-analysis of a number of papers in the field. A challenge at the very least to the methodologies now used in social neuroscience. Just now examining the original technical paper. From its abstract:

" ... high-profile studies frequently reporting extremely high (e.g., >.8) correlations between behavioral and self-report measures of personality or emotion and measures of brain activation obtained using fMRI. We show that these correlations often exceed what is statistically possible assuming the (evidently rather limited) reliability of both fMRI and personality/emotion measures. The implausibly high correlations are all the more puzzling because social-neuroscience method sections rarely contain sufficient detail to ascertain how these correlations were obtained... "

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