Cognitive Daily

A new blog; a defense of fMRI

Small Gray Matters is a new blog which claims to be “about brains and minds. What else do you need to know?”

For starters, I’d like to know who’s writing it, but I’m prepared to be swayed by good content. The blog’s first post doesn’t disappoint in that regard: it’s a spirited defense of neuroimaging. The author makes some excellent points in defense of fMRI and other types of brain scans.

  • FMRI is popular, but its popularity doesn’t actually distract from other areas of psychology — it just adds to the total amount of science coverage in the news
  • Many fMRI studies extend existing psychological research. (I think Bloom would argue that this is one of its problems)
  • It’s a new field, so we haven’t reached the saturation point of neuroimaging studies
  • Neuroimaging isn’t the only “sexy” science — other fields like cosmology tend to hog the limelight equally
  • Bloom’s point that reaction time research has explained more than neuroimaging can be turned around: it’s impressive that the comparison is even being made after a couple decades of neuroimaging studies versus a century of reaction time research
  • It’s not the fMRI researchers fault that people tend to prefer neuroimaging studies over other fields.

While I think this argument misses the main point of Bloom’s article: that people are irrationally swayed by fMRI studies, it does make some compelling points. I’ll be interested to see what Small Gray Matters brings us in the future.

One more thing: I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point out that Chris at Mixing Memory offers another supportive article on Bloom’s essay Here.