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brainSCANr: First week recap (cross-post)

Continuing the cross-posting from the brainSCANr blog. I'll only be doing this for a few more weeks, so if you're subscribed to both, please bear with me.

Wow, it's only been a week, but brainSCANr has been quite successful!

We don't have a mailing list yet, so if you'd like to keep updated in the meantime, subscribe to our RSS feed or follow Brad on Twitter. You can see what people are saying about our site at the bottom of this post.

And if you haven't seen it yet, Brad's been quoted in a recent New York Times article on the human connectome.

So far we've had just shy of 10,000 pageviews from 75 countries including Kenya and Iran. The top 5 countries by pageviews are the US, UK, Canada, Germany, and Spain. I'm very pleased to see non-English speaking countries on this list.

Bradley Voytek brainSCANr

Social media seems to have played an important part in brainSCANr's spread, with over 30 shares on Facebook, nearly 100 tweets, and 45 points on reddit.

Here's our first glance at user trends and data examination. Because of the nature of our system, we can also examine search trends. Thus far, our top five search terms have been:

  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • anxiety
  • amygdala
  • happiness
  • depression

as well as some more... interesting searches. Sex and money are popular: terms like "sex", "erection", "money", "neuroeconomics", and so on. Also "Google". Not sure what people are expecting to find, but I have promised friends to get them Google in the brain.

I'm curious as to what kind of neuroscience zeitgeist we can tap into with this platform. Mind you, the search rankings above are a bit skewed because of some direct links to searches from external sites.

For example, Vaughan Bell over at MindHacks wrote about brainSCANr, but he linked directly to the PTSD graph, so that's definitely skewing our rankings.

"Anxiety", "amygdala", "happiness", and "depression" seem to be purely organic searches on our users' part. That said, we do show "happiness" as a search example on our main page, so I'm sure that's skewing things a bit. Also, I wonder if the up-tick in "amygdala" searches aren't motivated by the recent studies about the amygdala that have been getting a lot of press.

By the way, I love the internet. The Bickart study shows how one's amygdala and social network sizes correlate. But the comments sections in the CNN blog I linked to above are where the real magic happens. The story states:

...keep in mind that the brain is plastic, and it's possible that the amygdala does increase in size in response to social activity.

To which a commentor said:

ExCUSE me? The brain is WHAT? Maybe on the Jersey Shore it is, but where I live, the brain is organic matter.

Anyway, we hope to do some more sophisticated analyses once more time passes and we get more data. I'd love to hear some suggestions regarding what kind of analyses we could do!