Scientists are likely to fail. With funding and journal acceptance rates lingering at 10%, the remaining 90% of us are stuck in a high effort-low benefit scenario. I guess you can say that we are the 99% . I bring up high effort-low benefit and relate it to the current likelihood of success in science because there is an article in this week’s Journal of Neuroscience which examined the relationship between the extent of dopaminergic signaling in higher-order cortical areas and one’s physical and mental efforts to complete a task with little or no reward as compensation. It could represent the mind of an athlete too. Basically someone like me.
ResearchBlogging.org
I attach the paper here if you want a more comprehensive idea of the experimental design and results, but basically the researchers “neuroimaged” (PET and MRI) striatal (caudate putamen) and frontal cortical areas (ventromedial prefrontal cortex) that are highly involved in attentional, reward-seeking, and decision-making processes during the execution of this high effort-low benefit tasks. It comes to no surprise (at least to me) that individuals, hopefully they were all blossoming scientists and/or athletes, with exceptionally higher and NATURAL levels of dopaminergic signaling in these brain areas expended more effort to complete these tasks.

Here is a beautiful array of the data showing an individual neuroimage of dopaminergic signaling against effort expended for the completion of the behavioral task.

Treadway, M., Buckholtz, J., Cowan, R., Woodward, N., Li, R., Ansari, M., Baldwin, R., Schwartzman, A., Kessler, R., & Zald, D. (2012). Dopaminergic Mechanisms of Individual Differences in Human Effort-Based Decision-Making Journal of Neuroscience, 32 (18), 6170-6176 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6459-11.2012