Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Close-knit Science

I'm not exactly a psychology geek (but then, I'm not exactly not a psychology geek), but as I've kept reading papers more-or-less diligently for the subgroup of my research group that does scanning research (when we're not talking about our research), I notice that the same names keep cropping up (and a fair number of them are people I've bumped into at Pitt or CMU) in references in the papers. This brings to mind a few possibilities as to why this is so:

  1. Only a few places are doing cognitive modeling using imaging technologies to guide their research (and only a few more are doing imaging-based psychology research). Plausible because most types of imaging are some combination of expensive and difficult to get IRB approval/infrastructure for.
  2. CMU/Pitt's research is among the better places for such research. Plausible
  3. Papers published at CMU/Pitt (which I am more likely to read) tend to be written by people who are more likely to know about (and thus rely on) research done by other people at CMU/Pitt. Plausible - there are different ways information is disseminated through academia, from informal meetings like our weeklies up to conferences and journals, and the more geographically (or campwise) different groups lose out on some of these opportunities, it'd make sense they'd be less aware of each other.
  4. Building on the previous idea, the different subcamps disapprove of or don't understand the fine details of the methods (or tools) other research groups use, and so only consider them "potentially informative", in contrast to groups that are more similar. I believe there to be at least a bit of truth in this - I understand that the various analysis streams used in imaging research have their partisians (my group uses a set of utilities largely developed at Pitt (NISTools/FIS/etc), but there are other tools like BrainVoyager and SPM that other groups use), as do the reference brains people use. Combined with the many types of analysis and even scanning possible, it's no surprise that camps have developed. If the brain is the great car engine that we're all trying to pull apart and everyone has their favourite set of tools, how could it be any different?

I wish I could justify asking to go to one of the conferences other people in my group go to, but an interest in the practice/sociology of science would probably be a bad reason - I don't know enough psychology to justify the cost (and I suspect, one way or the other, I'm not going to be working in the field for so much longer).

Yesterday's soccer was quite small. It went reasonably well. It's getting a bit chilly to play skins though..

Tags: science

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