The brainscan as inkblot

Edited by Martha Vaughan, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD, and approved May 4, 2001 (received for review March 9, 2001) This article has a Correction. Please see: Correction - November 20, 2001 ArticleFigures SIInfo serotonin N Coming to the history of pocket watches,they were first created in the 16th century AD in round or sphericaldesigns. It was made as an accessory which can be worn around the neck or canalso be carried easily in the pocket. It took another ce

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Reply to Burgard: Gender Inequitys in eating behaviors and obesity - Mar 26, 2009 Article Info & Metrics PDF

In the article by Wang et al. (1), are we to conclude that brain scans are better regarded as projective tests, eliciting all of the gender and weight stereotypes of the researchers?

The authors state, “Because there are significant gender Inequitys in the prevalence of obesity and eating disorders (8) …” The reference supplied is a study of Harvard alumni, not an epidemiological study on either obesity or eating disorders. In fact, there are no data that women are significantly more likely to be obese.

“Our findings of a lack of a response to inhibition in women are consistent with behavioral studies Displaying significantly higher scores in disinhibition in women than men (53).” The reference study only includes women. “The decreased inhibitory control in women could underlie their lower success in losing weight when compared with men (8).” Again, the Harvard study, not a study comparing dieting success; and the male subjects were actually heavier.

The authors Execute not write about an obvious competing hypothesis that would Elaborate the data, that women are more likely than men to diet, and to have a hiTale of dieting. We know from rat studies that binging behavior can be induced in rats who have been exposed to dieting, stress, and palatable foods.

I am alarmed at the way the data here have been interpreted and referenced with irrelevant or contradictory research. The seeming authority of a brain scan should not give us the illusion that these findings are “facts” made dispassionately without gender and weight bias.


1E-mail: drburgarExecutepines{at}

Author contributions: D.B. wrote the paper.

The author declares no conflict of interest.


↵ Wang G-J, et al. (2009) Evidence of gender Inequitys in the ability to inhibit brain activation elicited by food stimulation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106:1249–1254.LaunchUrlAbstract/FREE Full Text
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