Empirical examination of the replicability of associations between brain structure and psychological variables

Published on Mar 13, 2019in eLife7.55
· DOI :10.7554/eLife.43464
Shahrzad Kharabian Masouleh1
Estimated H-index: 1
(HHU: University of Düsseldorf),
Simon B. Eickhoff83
Estimated H-index: 83
(HHU: University of Düsseldorf)
+ 2 AuthorsAlzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative
All human brains share the same basic structure. But no two brains are exactly alike. Brain scans can reveal differences between people in the organization and activity of individual brain regions. Studies have suggested that these differences give rise to variation in personality, intelligence and even political preferences. But recent attempts to replicate some of these findings have failed, questioning the existence of such a direct link, specifically between brain structure and human behavior. This had led some disagreements whether there is a general replication crisis in psychology, or if the replication studies themselves are flawed. Kharabian Masouleh et al. have now used brain scans from hundreds of healthy volunteers from an already available dataset to try to resolve the issue. The volunteers had previously completed several psychological tests. These measured cognitive and behavioral aspects such as attention, memory, anxiety and personality traits. Kharabian Masouleh et al. performed more than 10,000 analyzes on their dataset to look for relationships between brain structure and psychological traits. But the results revealed very few statistically significant relationships. Moreover, the relationships that were identified proved difficult to replicate in independent samples. By contrast, the same analyzes demonstrated robust links between brain structure and memory in patients with Alzheimer's disease. They also showed connections between brain structure and non-psychological traits, such as age. This confirms that the analysis techniques do work. So why did the new study find so few relationships between brain structure and psychological traits, when so many links have been reported previously? One possibility is publication bias. Researchers and journals may be more likely to publish positive findings than negative ones. Another factor could be that that most studies use too few participants to be able to reliably detect relationships between brain structure and behavior, and that studies with 200 to 300 participants are still too small. Therefore, future studies should use samples with many hundreds of participants, or more. This will be possible if more groups make their data available for others to analyze. Researchers and journals must also be more willing to publish negative findings. This will help provide an accurate view of relationships between brain structure and behavior.
  • References (69)
  • Citations (3)
Published on Dec 1, 2018
Benjamin O. Turner9
Estimated H-index: 9
(NTU: Nanyang Technological University),
Erick J. Paul10
Estimated H-index: 10
+ 1 AuthorsAron Keith Barbey25
Estimated H-index: 25
Despite a growing body of research suggesting that task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies often suffer from a lack of statistical power due to too-small samples, the proliferation of such underpowered studies continues unabated. Using large independent samples across eleven tasks, we demonstrate the impact of sample size on replicability, assessed at different levels of analysis relevant to fMRI researchers. We find that the degree of replicability for typical sample siz...
Published on Aug 1, 2018in Human Brain Mapping4.55
Thomas J. Vanasse2
Estimated H-index: 2
(University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio),
P. Mickle Fox11
Estimated H-index: 11
(University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio)
+ 4 AuthorsPeter T. Fox114
Estimated H-index: 114
Published on Jul 1, 2018in Psychological Bulletin16.41
Paul De Boeck36
Estimated H-index: 36
Minjeong Jeon10
Estimated H-index: 10
Published on May 1, 2018in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience2.87
Elmira Ismaylova3
Estimated H-index: 3
(UdeM: Université de Montréal),
Jessica Di Sante2
Estimated H-index: 2
(Concordia University)
+ 4 AuthorsLinda Booij27
Estimated H-index: 27
(Concordia University)
Numerous studies have shown differences in the functioning in the areas of the frontal-limbic circuitry between depressed patients and controls. However, current knowledge on frontal-limbic neural substrates of individual differences in mood states in everyday life in healthy individuals is scarce. The present study investigates anatomical, resting-state and functional neural correlates of daily mood states in healthy individuals. We expected to observe associations between mood and the frontal-...
Published on Apr 1, 2018in Trends in Cognitive Sciences16.17
Sarah Genon10
Estimated H-index: 10
(HHU: University of Düsseldorf),
Andrew Reid1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of Nottingham)
+ 2 AuthorsSimon B. Eickhoff83
Estimated H-index: 83
(HHU: University of Düsseldorf)
Many brain regions have been defined, but a comprehensive formalization of each region’s function in relation to human behavior is still lacking. Current knowledge comes from various fields, which have diverse conceptions of ‘functions’. We briefly review these fields and outline how the heterogeneity of associations could be harnessed to disclose the computational function of any region. Aggregating activation data from neuroimaging studies allows us to characterize the functional engagement of...
Published on Jan 1, 2018in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology3.29
Casper J. Albers11
Estimated H-index: 11
Daniel Lakens23
Estimated H-index: 23
Abstract When designing a study, the planned sample size is often based on power analyses. One way to choose an effect size for power analyses is by relying on pilot data. A-priori power analyses are only accurate when the effect size estimate is accurate. In this paper we highlight two sources of bias when performing a-priori power analyses for between-subject designs based on pilot data. First, we examine how the choice of the effect size index ( η 2 , ω 2 and e 2 ) affects the sample size and...
Published on Jan 1, 2018in Neuron14.40
Shubulade Smith112
Estimated H-index: 112
(University of Oxford),
Stephen J. Smith134
Estimated H-index: 134
(University of Oxford),
Thomas E. Nichols69
Estimated H-index: 69
(Warw.: University of Warwick)
Smith and Nichols discuss "big data" human neuroimaging studies, with very large subject numbers and amounts of data. These studies provide great opportunities for making new discoveries about the brain but raise many new analytical challenges and interpretational risks.
Published on Nov 20, 2017in PLOS ONE2.78
Henk R. Cremers9
Estimated H-index: 9
(UvA: University of Amsterdam),
Tor D. Wager67
Estimated H-index: 67
(CU: University of Colorado Boulder),
Tal Yarkoni34
Estimated H-index: 34
(University of Texas at Austin)
Statistically underpowered studies can result in experimental failure even when all other experimental considerations have been addressed impeccably. In fMRI the combination of a large number of dependent variables, a relatively small number of observations (subjects), and a need to correct for multiple comparisons can decrease statistical power dramatically. This problem has been clearly addressed yet remains controversial—especially in regards to the expected effect sizes in fMRI, and especial...
Published on Aug 1, 2017in NeuroImage5.81
Sarah Genon10
Estimated H-index: 10
(University of Liège),
Tobias Wensing2
Estimated H-index: 2
(RWTH Aachen University)
+ 5 AuthorsSimon B. Eickhoff83
Estimated H-index: 83
(HHU: University of Düsseldorf)
Abstract Recently, we showed that the functional heterogeneity of the right dorsal premotor (PMd) cortex could be better understood by dividing it into five subregions that showed different behavioral associations according to task-based activations studies. The present study investigated whether the revealed behavioral profile could be corroborated and complemented by a structural brain behavior correlation approach in two healthy adults cohorts. Grey matter volume within the five volumes of in...
Published on Jul 1, 2017in Perspectives on Psychological Science8.19
Scott O. Lilienfeld62
Estimated H-index: 62
The past several years have been a time for soul searching in psychology, as we have gradually come to grips with the reality that some of our cherished findings are less robust than we had assumed. Nevertheless, the replication crisis highlights the operation of psychological science at its best, as it reflects our growing humility. At the same time, institutional variables, especially the growing emphasis on external funding as an expectation or de facto requirement for faculty tenure and prom...
Cited By3
Published on Sep 18, 2019in bioRxiv
M. Tahmasian (Forschungszentrum Jülich), Fateme Samea2
Estimated H-index: 2
(Shahid Beheshti University)
+ 8 AuthorsSimon B. Eickhoff83
Estimated H-index: 83
(Forschungszentrum Jülich)
Humans need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep habits are heritable, associated with brain function and structure, and intrinsically related to well-being, mental and physical health. This raises the question whether associations between sleep, mental and physical health can be attributed to a shared macroscale neurobiology. Combining neuroimaging and behavioral genetic approaches in two independent large-scale datasets (n=1887) we demonstrate phenotypic and genetic correspondence betw...
Published on Sep 6, 2019in bioRxiv
Moataz Assem1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit),
Zachary Mineroff2
Estimated H-index: 2
(MIT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
+ 2 AuthorsEvelina Fedorenko29
Estimated H-index: 29
(McGovern Institute for Brain Research)
Numerous brain lesion and fMRI studies have linked individual differences in executive abilities and fluid intelligence to brain regions of the fronto−parietal ″multiple−demand″ (MD) network. Yet, fMRI studies have yielded conflicting evidence as to whether better executive abilities are associated with stronger or weaker MD activations and whether this relationship is restricted to the MD network. Here, in a large−sample (n=216) fMRI investigation, we found that stronger activity in MD regions ...
Published on 2019in Human Brain Mapping4.55
Masoud Tahmasian17
Estimated H-index: 17
(Shahid Beheshti University),
Amir Ali Sepehry19
Estimated H-index: 19
+ 7 AuthorsClaudia R. Eickhoff11
Estimated H-index: 11
(HHU: University of Düsseldorf)
Published on Jul 14, 2019in The Neuroscientist6.79
Corey Horien3
Estimated H-index: 3
(Yale University),
Abigail S. Greene2
Estimated H-index: 2
(Yale University)
+ 1 AuthorsDustin Scheinost26
Estimated H-index: 26
(Yale University)
Published on Jul 3, 2019in bioRxiv
Anthony P. Zanesco10
Estimated H-index: 10
(UM: University of Miami)
Microstates reflect transient brain states resulting from the activity of synchronously active brain networks that predominate in the broadband EEG time series. Despite increasing interest in understanding how the functional organization of the brain varies across individuals, or the extent to which its spatiotemporal dynamics are state dependent, comparatively little research has examined within and between-person correlates of microstate temporal parameters in healthy populations. In the prese...
Published on Jun 4, 2019in bioRxiv
Reut Avinun6
Estimated H-index: 6
(Duke University),
Salomon Israel27
Estimated H-index: 27
(HUJI: Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
+ -2 AuthorsAhmad R. Hariri71
Estimated H-index: 71
(Duke University)
Attempts to link the Big Five personality traits of Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism with variability in trait-like features of brain structure have produced inconsistent results. Small sample sizes and heterogeneous methodology have been suspected in driving these inconsistencies. Here, we tested for associations between the Big Five personality traits and multiple measures of brain structure using data from 1,107 university students (636 women, mean age...
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