Book Review: the Promise and Perils of fMRI


Russell Poldrack reviews Sex, Lies, and Brain Scans: How fMRI Reveals What Really Goes on in our Minds, by Barbara J. Sahakian and Julia Gottwald.

As Poldrack emphasizes, it’s falling-off-a-log easy to overestimate the power of fMRI: in fields such as lie-detection and neuro-prediction, we regularly see hype and misunderstanding rather than sober and substantial understanding.

My favorite line from the review: “[N]euroimaging is usually only as solid as the behavioural research that underpins it.”

The take-away for teachers: brain images from neuroscience-world are compelling, but we should be sure to have psychology research as well before we make changes in our schools and classrooms.

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