“Ambiguities in the presentation of some of the data” lead to an ambiguous retraction notice

brainSometimes, authors and journals editors seem to think a bit of mystery is a good thing. Take a recent retraction in Brain.

Here’s the  notice for “Selective impairment of hand mental rotation in patients with focal hand dystonia:”

The above paper has been retracted by mutual consent between the authors and the Editor due to ambiguities in the presentation of some of the data.

The paper has been cited 68 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

We wanted to know more about these ambiguities, but corresponding author Salvatore Maria Aglioti’s email bounced, and the editors of Brain haven’t responded.

For those of you wondering what focal hand dystonia is, here’s a description from the paper’s abstract, along with what the experiment was:

Writer’s cramp is the most common form of focal hand dystonia in which symptoms manifest mainly during writing. The present study aims to investigate whether patients affected by writer’s cramp present with difficulties in tasks involving mental rotation of body parts and whether any impairments are specific to the affected hand or generalized to other body parts. For this purpose we tested 10 patients with right writer’s cramp and 10 healthy control subjects. Stimuli consisted of realistic photographs of different views of hands and feet presented on a computer monitor in different orientations with respect to the upright canonical orientation.

For the time being, you might say this is a nucleus ambiguus.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

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