October 20, 2010
Just when I thought I had finally read a paper for my seminar that hadn't bothered me in some way, I came across this in the conclusion: "Our data illustrate the role of uncoupling proteins in promoting brain plasticity and their participation in physiological and pathological adaptations of the brain." Isn't that statement a tad bit broad for this relatively straight-forward study which really only assessed the importance of UCP2? Furthermore, multiple times throughout the paper, the researchers assert that they did not monitor the effects or levels of UCP3 or UCP5, two other predominant uncoupling proteins. What about UCP1? It has been found to have implications in generating heat in hibernating mammals - how would this come into play in exercise-induced brain function, if at all?
Overgeneralization of results in science can be problematic for the directions of future research. The conclusion of this paper would lead one to believe that all uncoupling proteins have been found to have the same implications on these processes as UCP2 did, when in fact they may not in the least. This concept got me thinking about a trade-off, between overgeneralization and over-specificity, which was perceptively blogged about a few days ago. In Science papers, overgeneralizing can mislead future research, and lead to oversight. On the other hand, being too specific about something could lead to frivolous research, wasting time and resources.
Perhaps for this paper, an appropriate way to conclude this paper would be to assert that UCP2 has been implicated in these mechanisms, but further research is required to determine whether or not all uncoupling proteins produce the same results.