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J Neurosci Methods. 2012;206(2):151-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2012.02.012. Epub 2012 Mar 3.

Direct interaction with no correlation: an experimental pitfall in neural systems.

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  • 1Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9660, USA. skirmantas.janusonis@psych.ucsb.edu

Abstract

Neural systems continuously optimize how organisms process their environment and are highly dynamic. Building predictive models of these systems is challenging due to the large number of their elements. Therefore, in experimental and descriptive neurobiology the researcher typically does not seek to catalogue all variables that affect one another, but rather tries to isolate variables that interact directly. Because of methodological limitations, observed variables are often measured near equilibrium. The presented analysis demonstrates that statistical tests performed on such equilibrium values are fundamentally incapable of detecting direct interactions in a large subset of simple dynamical systems. Some of these problems can be avoided by using explicit statistical models that include time as a variable.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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