On the (non)persuasive power of a brain image Academic Article uri icon


  • The persuasive power of brain images has captivated scholars in many disciplines. Like others, we too were intrigued by the finding that a brain image makes accompanying information more credible (McCabe & Castel in Cognition 107:343-352, 2008). But when our attempts to build on this effect failed, we instead ran a series of systematic replications of the original study-comprising 10 experiments and nearly 2,000 subjects. When we combined the original data with ours in a meta-analysis, we arrived at a more precise estimate of the effect, determining that a brain image exerted little to no influence. The persistent meme of the influential brain image should be viewed with a critical eye.


  • Michael, Robert B
  • Newman, Eryn J
  • Vuorre, Matti
  • Cumming, Geoff
  • Garry, Maryanne

publication date

  • August 2013