Thursday, April 20, 2006

I'm Super! The "Superfrontal Gyrus" is the Seat of Self-Awareness!

The New Scientist has a horrible article on a new fMRI study :
Watching the brain 'switch off' self-awareness
. . .

The team conducted a series of experiments to pinpoint the brain activity associated with introspection and that linked to sensory function. They found that the brain assumes a robotic functionality when it has to concentrate all its efforts on a difficult, timed task – only becoming "human" again when it has the luxury of time.

. . .

Goldberg found that when the sensory stimulus was shown slowly, and when a personal emotional response was required, the volunteers showed activity in the superfrontal gyrus – the brain region associated with self-awareness-related function.

But when the card flipping and musical sequences were rapid, there was no activity in the superfrontal gyrus, despite activity in the sensory cortex and related structures.

. . .
Seriously, the "superfrontal" gyrus does not exist, perhaps writer Gaia Vince meant "superior frontal gyrus." And I doubt that the subjects turned into robots when the card flipping and musical sequences were rapid. I'll read the original paper in Neuron and report back.

This is definitely one for BAD Neuro-Journalism!

Thanks to Elliot for the link.

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At April 22, 2006 7:09 PM, Blogger Dan Dright said...

For shame. Everybody knows it's known as the "super-dee-duper frontalicious gyrus."

FMRI stuff is breeding another bumper crop of science a-la "My driveway is wet, so therefore goblins must have emptied thousand of squirt guns on it. Don't you dare suggest it rained! After all, I have pictures that suggest it could have been goblins!"

Nice post. Bad article.


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