Marco Iacoboni, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences; Director, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Lab, Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles Website | Publications | @marcoiacoboni
Abstract: Brain imaging research suffers the same WEIRD selection bias discussed by Heine in behavioral sciences. Does it really matter for brain science? On one hand, brains tend to be evolutionarily highly preserved. This is why animal research findings can be used to understand the human brain. On the other hand, a multitude of human cultural traditions shape neural activity, likely producing a rich variety of brain patterns. Brain imaging labs have captured so far only a tiny fraction of such variety. Furthermore, brain imaging has an additional problem, compared to the behavioral sciences. The scanner environment strongly limits the kind of things that subjects can do in the lab. Experiments are often biased toward stimulus-response paradigms with isolated subjects, or as in recent years, resting state (here subjects do nothing). To move the field forward, it is necessary to establish interdisciplinary collaborations that require creative solutions regarding the limiting constraints of imaging labs.
Bio: Marco Iacoboni is Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Director of the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Lab at the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Iacoboni pioneered the research on mirror neurons, the “smart cells” in our brain that allow us to understand others. His research has been covered by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, The Economist, and major TV networks. Marco Iacoboni’s book on mirror neurons is entitled Mirroring People: The Science of Empathy and How We Connect with Others.