I was talking to a neuroscientist the other day and he started complaining about fMRI studies. They are too easy, unreliable, etc. (This is a surprisingly common complaint among neuroscientists who rely on the techniques of molecular biology.) But then he asked me a question that I couldn’t answer. “Tell me one brain imaging study,” he said, “that was really, truly surprising? You get lots of studies showing that the DLPFC is important for deliberate reasoning or that the amygdala responds to negative stimuli, but is that surprising?” He went on to note that, while fMRI studies have certainly fleshed out our understanding of cortical anatomy, they hadn’t really overturned any big ideas. Where, he wondered, are the Hubel and Wiesels of brain imaging?
Can you think of any brain imaging experiments that generated some really surprising results? I’m sure there are some, I just couldn’t come up with any of the top of my head.