5-HTTLPR episode 17: The revenge of the neurocriticcritic

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I am sort of a neuropessimist believing that a large part of neuroscience results are more variable than we would like to think. I dont think that I am extremist like Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. I still need to understand its mathematical details and its critique.

The oldtimer 5-HTTLPR genetic polymorphism has long been hailed and then dethroned as associated with anxiety-related personality traits. Quite a number of meta-analyses have examined its effect on a range of variables and I recently listed some of these in tables for 5-HTTLPR meta-meta-analysis. The results are somewhat – hmmm – well – perhaps there is an effect on depression, perhaps only little effect or perhaps no effect. For the interaction between 5-HTTLPR and “stressful life events” on depression two 2009 meta-analyses (Munafo and some others) found no effect.

Anonymous neuroimaging blogger The Neurocritic had in 2009 a piece called Myth of the Depression Gene where he (probably not a she) with a certain amount of schadenfreude dethroned the optimistic original 2003 study of Caspi, Sugden, Moffit and all the others. Now yesterday neurocriticcritic nooffensebut pointed to a new meta-analysis published a few days ago, The serotonin transporter promoter variant (5-HTTLPR), stress, and depression meta-analysis revisited: evidence of genetic moderation, that claims a fair amount of effect from the 5-HTTLPR-stress interaction on depression.

Now I would say that you can’t trust the papers that say you can’t trust papers. But in the true spirit of neuropessimism I would say that you also shouldn’t trust that.

For you PubMed junkies: The next episode of 5-HTTLPR will come to a web-page near to you.

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