No evidence for a psychological trait of impulsivity

This is a brief commentary by Orestis Zavlis (Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, United King) and me on the recent PNAS paper entitled “Impulsivity is a stable, measurable, and predictive psychological trait”. The paper follows the typical structure of alphabet papers — papers that have established factors of C(ognitive dysfunctioning) or D(ark factor… Read more »

Red flags in the new 2024 depression Ketamine paper

A short blog post for a change, with the goal to preempt expected hype around what is basically a null-finding: Nature Medicine just published a new paper on using Ketamine for treatment-resistant depression. I don’t have the 4-6 hours it takes me to vet a paper in detail (requires reading the statistical analysis plan, compare… Read more »

A checklist to vet psychedelic science

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As result of a commentary we wrote, Jama Psychiatry recently published a correction of a serious error in a 2023 paper on treating bipolar depression with psilocybin (together with Ioana Cristea and Florian Naudet). This correction included correcting the title of the paper itself. In this blog, I’ll very briefly discuss the core issue in… Read more »

2022 psilocybin Nature Medicine study remains uncorrected

I just saw that the Daws et al. 2022 paper that was heavily discussed in 2022 and 2023 is still online, and Nature Medicine neither published criticism that has been raised, nor did they publish an expression of concern or correction. I originally came across the paper when one of the authors wrote about it… Read more »

PhD scholarship .. in our lab?

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The Dutch science funder NWO released information on the Mosaic 2.0 PhD scholarship aimed at the under-represented group of graduates with a migration background from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America and Turkey in the Netherlands. To qualify for the program, among other criteria, you need to 1) have a migration background; 2)… Read more »

Social media bans don’t address youth mental health problems

I co-wrote this piece with the fantastic Margarita Panayiotou, Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester who’s work focuses on psychometrics, measurement, social media & adolescent mental health who is currently conducting the #So.Me study.  The last weeks have seen an increase of discussions surrounding youth mental health and its relationship with social media. This… Read more »

Scientific publishers *not* adding value

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A month ago, I wrote about things that bum me out in academia, and some antidotes against cynicism creep. It was actually one of my best-received blog posts, and I appreciate all the positive feedback, comments, and shares. In the last half year, we’ve had an absolutely terrible experience with a scientific journal, so let… Read more »

Which depression measure is best?

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A new paper published today in Lancet Psychiatry, led by Christopher Veal, reports findings from a systemic review of 450 clinical trials for unipolar and bipolar depression. Our results can be seen as trying to answer one of the oldest questions in the field of depression measurement: which of the over 200 measures is the… Read more »

Antidotes to cynicism creep in academia

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This is one of these blog posts that doesn’t read well if you stop halfway. First, I provide evidence that academia can look pretty broken: there is low-quality work everywhere you look, the peer-review system has long outlived its utility, and academic publishing is a dumpster fire. Add considerable work pressure, the publish-or-perish culture, and… Read more »

Blood tests for mental health problems

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A new paper was published yesterday on a blood test for schizophrenia, by the same research team that in 2021 published a paper on a blood test for depression. The papers and accompanying press release contain problematic language, and the general idea of a blood test for mental illness makes very little sense to me… Read more »

Fact-check: depression & temperatures study

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A new interesting paper was published 2 weeks ago on depression and temperature. I saw a news article about the paper today that I didn’t think captured the core findings particularly well — and I wasn’t happy with some of the authors’ conclusions either — so I briefly wanted to summarize these issues here. Study… Read more »

Is the ‘default mode network’ responsible for the mental health crisis in youth?

(Note: I wrote up this blog as a commentary, which is now published in the same journal as response to the editorial. PDF, DOI 10.31234/ The very short answer is: no, youth mental health problems are not generally due to the default mode network (DMN). But the editorial in Current Psychiatry that claims it may… Read more »

Does the d (disease) factor really exist?

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Mental health problems are comorbid, which means that they are positively intercorrelated and don’t tend to occur in isolation. Of all people diagnosed with major depression, for example, about half of them have at least one more comorbid mental health problem, such as generalized anxiety disorder or posttraumatic stress disorder. Now, the same holds for… Read more »

Using GPT-3 to search for scientific “references”

I have been playing around with GPT-3 and its chatbot in previous weeks, and found it fascinating. GPT-3——the Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3——is a deep learning language model developed by OPEN AI and produces human-like text. Some amazing use cases have already been explored. Here is an example where Denny Borsboom interrogated GPT-3 about assumptions of… Read more »

“Clear evidence” for serotonin hypothesis of depression?

There has been a 60 year long discussion on the role of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the pathophysiology of depression. A recent systematic investigation by Joanna Moncrieff and colleagues concluded that “main areas of serotonin research provide no consistent evidence of there being an association between serotonin and depression, and no support for the hypothesis… Read more »

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