Thursday, 28 February 2013

Neurosynth.org

- written by Richard.

This is a really cool website that automatically synthesises fMRI activation maps from a couple thousand studies onto a brain image for you. Taking a couple of clicks and less than a minute, it's quick, easy and could be very useful. This post will give you a quick overview of using this tool.

Starting from the homepage (found at http://neurosynth.org/) click the term-based maps from within the images section.

Type in an anatomical or functional term into the search bar...









...and voila! A map of voxel activation's found from within their database that are associated with the entered search terms.















Alternatively, you have the option to enter image co-ordinates and the inverse will happen, so the probabilities of those co-ordinates being associated with various areas and functions will come up. Using [x,y,z] +44 +4 +8 will show you a high probability of insula activation, .78 for example.
















I have only just found this tool but I think the utility of it is clear. A really quick way to look up a region  that you may find active in your fMRI data. It is this sharing of 'public access' tools that is really commendable for those people sharing their cool software inventions in the imaging field, and with the promise for the ability to compose 'full-blown' meta-analyses in the upcoming months, they will probably help others.

There is one thing that I do need to ask someone though. Concerning the nature of the blobs being made by the site. Does the intensity of the blobs match up to the # of voxels reported as active, or do they reflect the magnitude of the BOLD effect? Or perhaps reflect both aspects? This is something that I am not too sure about, and think would need to be clarified before guiding researchers when finding unexpected results. And what about papers that don't explicitly report there functional co-ordinates, can they also be incorporated into this sites database?


Atheists Welcome fallibility


     Written by Rich.

Myself and my colleague, Sam Bird, spent many discussions during our Psychology undergraduate discrediting the many beliefs that surround, and I suppose support, the supernatural ideology. Well it has been a while since I have blogged here at the neuroatheist.blogspot.com but recent events have reminded me about the importance of discussing atheism, in public.

My part-time work colleague, lets call her Laura, is Catholic and so we were talking about the resignation of the pope. Laura described how she would be definitely listening to the final sermon from Benedict, and I suppose being the 265th pope, it is really going to be a showdown. After Benedict repudiated limbo, catholic's everywhere may have become concerned because the place where their unbaptised children always went, now apparently never existed. But folks, don't worry. I am sure that the pope and surrounding Vatican are more than ready to reclaim infallibility once again.

I agree with the late Christopher Hitchens on many things, but here is an especially relevant point made by him. The time between the resignation or death of a Pope and the re-election of another is actually a wonderfully fantastic period for the overall mental well-being of a human society. The time between popes is called an interregnum and when we are granted this pope liberated time, the worlds rationalists can savor a sweet moment as no one person on earth can be considered infallible. Dare I say this short period will be heavenly? For those that believe that no-one has divine authority and that each human being is an equal to another, I think it will be. Let us rejoice in the brief absence of 'divine dominion' and welcome our modest fallibility.