The Society for Neuroscience meeting has come and gone and among my personal highlights was the Neuroinformatics social (the cell death social came in as a close second, but only because of the name). This year, the organizer David Kennedy asked various people to give brief talks about their resources, but rather than the usual presentation, and, as this was a social,  NIF decided to run a game based on our new analytics.   We called this game:  Does anything ever not require further study?

If you want to play, don’t scroll to the bottom until you have tried to answer this question:

What terms go down in frequency over time in the biomedical literature?

Now, you must know that the cards are stacked in the favor of the house because we are publishing an ever increasing amount of papers per year, over 1M in 2011.   When we were testing the tool, almost every query resulted in increased mentions over time,  so finding a term that is decreasing in prevalence is actually not as easy as you may think.

Here is how you can play:
Go to the literature section of the new NIF interface (still beta) and then click on the Graph button (then chose the graph by year option).  This tool plots the frequency of the search term over time in articles available through Pub Med.  *Note, the last two points don’t count because those are the current year (2012) and the next year (2013).

We thought that some of the veteran neuroscientists would win because they would know of some obscure brain regions that are no longer studied, but although these sage scientists were given multiple chances they apparently know no terms from the 1960′s that are less popular now.

The winner was Shreejoy Tripathy, a young researcher who has spent a significant portion of his professional life text-mining the biomedical literature and may have had a-priori knowledge. His winning term was HRP, an intracellular tracer that was very popular in the 1980′s.  We were not sure whether he should be disqualified, but Christian Haselgrove probably had the most original answer: lobotomy!