During a study on the validity of the three most widely used software packages in fRMI, researchers found that they yielded more than 70% false positives.
According to a recent study approved and published in PNAS, official publication of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, a bug (it is an error or failure in a program or software that generates an Finland Phone Number List unwanted result) in the three most used software packages in fRMI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) could invalidate more than 15 years of research on brain activity and its application, among others, to neuromarketing.
This ruling could mean that many of the conclusions drawn from studies on drug addiction, love or exercise, could be wrong.
Despite the fact that fMRI is considered one of the best methods for the observation and study of brain activity, the statistical methods used have rarely been validated with real data. For this, simulated data have been used.
Anders Eklund from the University of Sweden and his team took 499 cases from healthy people around the world, separated them into groups of 20, and tested them against each other for more than 3 million random comparisons.
They tested the three most used software packages for fMRI and although they shouldn’t have found much difference (no greater than 5%) between the groups, the software returned 70% false positives. This indicates that some results were so inaccurate, that could be indicating brain activity where there really isn’t.
Scientists do not “look” directly at the brain with fRMI, but rather it is software that scans the voxels (it is the cubic unit that makes up a three-dimensional object) and generates an image interpreted by said software.
FRMI measures the amount of oxygen in the blood (BOLD, Blood Oxygenation Level-Dependent) in specific areas of the brain. Supposedly, an increase in oxygen is related to an increase in neuronal activity in that particular part of the brain. In this way, it is determined which area of the brain is activated according to the stimuli that are exposed to the subjects under study.
The results of this research is a severe setback for neuroscience, where in the US there are already companies that use neuroimaging as a lie detector and even in 2015, in India, a woman was sentenced to life imprisonment due to a brain scan , allegedly indicated details that only the killer could know. All this, without taking into account that many studies speak of correlations of 0.8 or 0.9, too good to be statistically credible.
There are many critical voices regarding how neuroscience has developed in the last 15 years, as we have embraced the results that have been obtained through the use of fMRI, perhaps excited by the findings and the possibility of getting so far into the human brain that we could know , until almost anticipating, what we thought.
Of course, in marketing the idea of ”the buy button” in neuromarketing has been talked about and sold a lot.
Now, all those voices, supported by this study, and partly by common sense when viewed with hindsight as neuroscience has become a kind of holy grail that allowed us to go beyond our own thoughts, and that companies They had found the way to sell everything to their clients, eliminating all kinds of barriers, they speak of deception, voodoo, and irresponsible press and scientists when communicating the results of their “infallible” investigations.
At the very least, it will be necessary to follow the evolution of the investigations, see what are the results of the review of the last 15 years, and what are the corrections made in them.
Neuromarketing experts, obviously, defend that the results of this research is not decisive and that, for example, the study at rest of the 499 subjects carried out by Anders Eklun and his team, is not valid, since rest is not the same in all individuals, for example, among many other criticisms.
The truth is that bugs have been the cause of famous disasters such as the case of the Dahrhan Missile, when an Iraqi missile killed 28 American soldiers at the Dahrhan base by mistake, the Mars Climate Orbiter probe that crashed and could not complete its mission or the case of the Arianne 5.