Re-analysis raises ghosts in neuroscience

A news story in this week's Nature linkurl:reports;http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070910/full/449124b.html on problems with research that in the last quarter-century has spawned a controversial but influential theory in neurophysiology. According to the theory, neurotransmitter is released at the linkurl:synapse;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15002/ in discrete vesicles, each containing approximately equal amounts of neurotransmitter, and with each synaptic bouton releasing just

By | September 18, 2007

A news story in this week's Nature linkurl:reports;http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070910/full/449124b.html on problems with research that in the last quarter-century has spawned a controversial but influential theory in neurophysiology. According to the theory, neurotransmitter is released at the linkurl:synapse;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15002/ in discrete vesicles, each containing approximately equal amounts of neurotransmitter, and with each synaptic bouton releasing just one such vesicle at a time. In a letter to the editor in this month's issue of the Journal of Neurophysiology, Jaques Ninio, a biostatistician at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, extracted data from the paper describing the theory, first published 25 years ago by the lab of Henri Korn at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, and reanalyzed it. According to linkurl:Ninio's;http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=17846254&ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum analysis, Korn's original data had been much too neat, giving clean curves where noisy results were to be expected. Korn, in an linkurl:accompanying;http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=798519&ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum letter, brushed off the allegations, stating that Ninio's methods in reanalyzing his group's work were themselves problematic. The Nature report also notes that aside from potential or alleged problems with the research (over the years, two researchers in Korn's lab apparently raised ethical concerns with the Institute, which were not investigated), more recent work suggests that the scientific picture is far more complex, with little uniformity in terms of what happens at the synapse.

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Avatar of: Luca Turin

Luca Turin

Posts: 1

September 18, 2007

I was one of the two researchers mentioned by Nature who raised questions about this work. Korn et al. criticize the analysis done by Jacques Ninio using data taken from their published papers ? Let them make the original data available to the scientific community for reanalysis and settle the issue.

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