A reexamination of the neurorealism effect: the role of context



The phenomenon of lay readers of neuroscience being positively biased by the mere presence of brain images (fMRI), has been hotly debated, with recent failures to replicate the phenomenon, and suggestions that context is important. We experimentally investigated the potentially biasing effect of neuroimagery on participants' beliefs and explored an important facet of context within a neuroscience article: whether the article was supportive or critical of fMRI use in detecting states of mind. Results supported recent arguments that a “neurorealism” effect may in part be an artifact of experimental design; but we also report evidence that context may be critical.