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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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*If you see that a new comic hasn't been explained yet, you can create it: '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Here's how]]'''.
 
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== Rules ==
 
== Rules ==

Revision as of 03:05, 4 September 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have an explanation for all 1452 xkcd comics, and only 0 (0%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

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fMRI
They also showed activation in the parts of the brain associated with exposure to dubious study methodology, concern about unremoved piercings, and exasperation with fMRI techs who won't stop talking about Warped Tour.
Title text: They also showed activation in the parts of the brain associated with exposure to dubious study methodology, concern about unremoved piercings, and exasperation with fMRI techs who won't stop talking about Warped Tour.

Explanation

The symptoms are direct results of the test itself. During fMRI patients hear loud noises, are confined in a box (thus the claustrophobia) and the magnetic field could rip off their jewelry if they are wearing any. The researcher has mistaken these as effects caused by performing simple tasks which the patients have been asked to do and not a direct result of the settings of the test.

fMRI (or Functional MRI) is a technique designed to show brain activity while performing tasks. Despite the elaborate name, this is, still, basically, an MRI test, i.e.: the subject is put into a relatively small cylinder inside a big, very loud, machine producing extremely strong magnetic fields.

Thus, the memory areas described by Meg are those associated with taking a functional MRI scan, rather than those associated with the "test" supposedly being carried out.

It appears that Randall makes fun of the overly confident, sweeping statements made by some fMRI researchers, often in the press. In reality the technique is still in its infancy and while large amounts data can be produced, their interpretation usually remains ambiguous. Problems include statistical analyses and the use of proper control groups. See http://bit.ly/1y7nciM for further information as well as an anecdote involving a dead salmon.

The title text continues with this theme, adding "dubious study methodology" to the list. As the test was, obviously, carried out without a proper control group to eliminate irrelevant factors, this seems appropriate.

Transcript

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