The Cracked Bassoon

Two new papers

Filed under news, open-data.

I’m very pleased to announce two new first-author papers, both published in January this year. At first glance, getting two papers published in the first month of the year makes me look like incredibly productive scientist! But really, both papers are based on quite old work and have been a long time coming.

The first paper was co-written with Lenny Varghese, Christophe Micheyl, and Barbara Shinn-Cunnigham, and reports a small experiment I conducted as a postdoc in Barb’s lab circa 2014 (Mathias et al., 2020). The paper is perhaps notable because it’s my first “fully Bayesian” paper, in the sense that it contains absolutely no p values. Another first is that I’ve made the data and code publicly available in a github repository.

The second paper is from my current lab, and may be of interest to a broader readership, given the subject matter (Mathias et al., 2020). It’s about the relationship between cortical folding, or gyrification, and general cognitive ability (g). We attempted to replicate previous studies that reported correlations between these traits in groups of normal humans, and determine whether such correlations were caused by overlapping genetic influences. We found that gyrification and g were indeed genetically correlated, but importantly, this relationship was super weak. The take-home message is that, in the modern era of neuroimaging studies with huge samples, one needs to pay close attention to effect sizes when interpreting brain–behavior correlations.

The second paper used data from the Genetics of Brain Structure and Function Study (GOBS) and the Human Connectome Project (HCP). Since I wasn’t part of the investigative teams that collected these data, I’m not at liberty to share them. However, the HCP data is available for free to all bone fide researchers, and the application process is pretty straightforward.


Mathias, S. R., Varghese, L., Micheyl, C., & Shinn-Cunningham, B. G. (2020). On the utility of perceptual anchors during pure-tone frequency discrimination. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 147(1), 371–380. 10.1121/10.0000584

Mathias, S. R., Knowles, E. E. M., Mollon, J., Rodrigue, A., Koenis, M. M. C., Alexander-Bloch, A. F., Winkler, A. M., Olvera, R. L., Duggirala, R., Göring, H. H. H., Curran, J. E., Fox, P. T., Almasy, L., Blangero, J., & Glahn, D. C. (2020). Minimal relationship between local gyrification and general cognitive ability in humans. Cerebral Cortex. 10.1093/cercor/bhz319

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