A bracing call for better science when linking genes to brain function

There’s a fantastic editorial out in the European Journal of Neuroscience (Mitchell, 2018) arguing that standards need to be much higher in the field of neurogenomics–that’s the study of how genes relate to differences in brain structure and function.

The editorial is spot on–it concisely reviews the issues of low power, publication bias, lack of replication, etc.  Although specifically about neurogeneomics, the points made could be applied to many areas of investigation in the neurosciences.  It’s well worth a read, but if you don’t have time, here’s the most striking quote:

Underpowered, exploratory studies with high degrees of freedom and without replication samples simply generate noise, waste everyone’s time and resources, and pollute the literature with false positives. They are worse than doing nothing.  — Mitchell, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/neurogenome



Mitchell, K. J. (2018). Neurogenomics – towards a more rigorous science. European Journal of Neuroscience, 47(2), 109–114. doi: 10.1111/ejn13801

I'm a teacher, researcher, and gadfly of neuroscience. My research interests are in the neural basis of learning and memory, the history of neuroscience, computational neuroscience, bibliometrics, and the philosophy of science. I teach courses in neuroscience, statistics, research methods, learning and memory, and happiness. In my spare time I'm usually tinkering with computers, writing programs, or playing ice hockey.

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