Quantcast

Quick Question (definition)

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

cheerfulstudent

New Member
2+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2016
Messages
1
Reaction score
0

Members don't see this ad.
Hi, I'm currently writing my very first critique of a psychological research paper.

I keep coming across the phrase "functional neural correlates" and I'm not fully certain I understand what this means relative to the material I'm analyzing.

If the researchers are aiming to examine the functional neural correlates of sensory over-responsivity by comparing brain responses to sensory stimuli in youth with and without ASD, what exactly are they trying to examine?

Are they trying to determine which parts of the brain are responsible for SOR? or is it something completely different?

Thank you in advance.
 

synesthetics

New Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2013
Messages
10
Reaction score
10
It seems that they intend to compare the brain activity between groups when the two groups are exposed to stimuli. They are looking to understand what processes in the brain are related to SOR. They will get data about different parts of the brain, but the focus is on brain activity rather than brain structures. Does that help?

Also they say correlates, not causes, so I would be careful about using phrases like "responsible for" unless it is clear that that is truly what the authors are demonstrating or writing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Harry3990

Full Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2014
Messages
118
Reaction score
67
Oversimplified explanation that might be helpful:

Functional vs. Structural = this is used in the neuroscience to tell you they are talking about either (a) activation of certain brain regions (functional) or (b) differential sizes/shapes/appearance of structures (structural)

Neural = brain areas (typically, though could technically refer to spinal or peripheral neuronal systems as well)

Correlates = things that are associated with/related to/correlated with something else. Like synesthetics said, you can't use language like "responsible for" or this brain activation "causes" this function or vice versa.

Also, another important part of this. I'm going to assume that you're reading about fMRI data. If that's the case, you need to understand what fMRI is telling you and the limitations of that type of data. It is not "brain activation," but rather is the changes in blood flow in different regions in the brain. The idea/theory is that increased blood flow=increased brain activation in that area. What fMRI is NOT: directly-measured, electrical neural activation (i.e., neurons firing). I'd encourage you to go check out the fMRI Wikipedia page for a quick primer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_magnetic_resonance_imaging

Are they trying to determine which parts of the brain are responsible for SOR? or is it something completely different?

They are trying to identify parts of the brain that appear to be "activating" (i.e., if fMRI, have more blood flowing to those areas) differently in those with ASD vs those without ASD. That is, activating differently across those groups in response to whatever stimuli they are using.

Hope this was helpful. Definitely check out that Wikipedia page. Understanding the caveats and limitations of fMRI is super important for understanding this type of research. Good luck!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

PsyDr

Psychologist
Lifetime Donor
15+ Year Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2005
Messages
4,267
Reaction score
5,901
Because of the subject matter it is most likely single or multi channel auditory evoked potentials (i.e., EEG/MEG). There's literature in electroencephalography about the neural correlates (i.e., what happens in the brain) of "sensory gating". The "cocktail party effect" is a behavioral outcome of sensory gating.

For example, at a wild party you can single out the voice of the person to which you are conversing from the din of the rest of the environment.

Some people with various psychiatric diagnoses such as schizophrenia and autism have difficulty with this directed attention.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensory_gating
 
Top