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0898-929X
E-ISSN
1530-8898
2014 Impact factor:
4.69

Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

September 2013, Vol. 25, No. 9, Pages 1397-1405
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00407)
© 2013 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Look Again: Effects of Brain Images and Mind–Brain Dualism on Lay Evaluations of Research
Article PDF (350.1 KB)
Abstract

Brain scans have frequently been credited with uniquely seductive and persuasive qualities, leading to claims that fMRI research receives a disproportionate share of public attention and funding. It has been suggested that functional brain images are fascinating because they contradict dualist beliefs regarding the relationship between the body and the mind. Although previous research has indicated that brain images can increase judgments of an article's scientific reasoning, the hypotheses that brain scans make research appear more interesting, surprising, or worthy of funding have not been tested. Neither has the relation between the allure of brain imaging and dualism. In the following three studies, laypersons rated both fictional research descriptions and real science news articles accompanied by brain scans, bar charts, or photographs. Across 988 participants, we found little evidence of neuroimaging's seductive allure or of its relation to self-professed dualistic beliefs. These results, taken together with other recent null findings, suggest that brain images are less powerful than has been argued.