Reading the details, we learn that two tasks were imposed on the subjects during the experimental period. Before a brain scan in the morning, they spent some part of the preceding evening reading a section of a novel; then, immediately before the scan, they were quizzed about their comprehension of the novel and how it was affecting them.
The authors admit in the Discussion that being quizzed could have caused the changes in the brain scan. But they conclude that it didn’t, and that novel reading was the actual cause, because reasons. “Being questioned creates changes in your brain” did not make such a good press release.
Maggiekb is right about picking out the main lesson here; that ‘resting brain state’ is not a kind of neutral reference point, an Absolute Zero of neural nirvana.
Hmm. From the blurb, I was expecting it to go the route of “being literate involves changes in your brain. Thus, any neuroscience research that tries to make claims to universality should include subjects from non-literate societies.” I think that would have been way cooler than the actual article. Neuroscientists are almost as bad as psychologists when it comes to claiming claiming (or simply assuming, without bothering to question) that results from subjects who all come from the same cultural context apply to all humans.
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