From Brain Maps to Cognitive Ontologies: Informatics and the Search for Mental Structure

Posted: 6 Jan 2016

See all articles by Russell A. Poldrack

Russell A. Poldrack

Stanford University - Department of Psychology

Tal Yarkoni

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Psychology

Date Written: January 2016

Abstract

A major goal of cognitive neuroscience is to delineate how brain systems give rise to mental function. Here we review the increasingly large role informatics-driven approaches are playing in such efforts. We begin by reviewing a number of challenges conventional neuroimaging approaches face in trying to delineate brain-cognition mappings — for example, the difficulty in establishing the specificity of postulated associations. Next, we demonstrate how these limitations can potentially be overcome using complementary approaches that emphasize large-scale analysis — including meta-analytic methods that synthesize hundreds or thousands of studies at a time; latent-variable approaches that seek to extract structure from data in a bottom-up manner; and predictive modeling approaches capable of quantitatively inferring mental states from patterns of brain activity. We highlight the underappreciated but critical role for formal cognitive ontologies in helping to clarify, refine, and test theories of brain and cognitive function. Finally, we conclude with a speculative discussion of what future informatics developments may hold for cognitive neuroscience.

Suggested Citation

Poldrack, Russell A. and Yarkoni, Tal, From Brain Maps to Cognitive Ontologies: Informatics and the Search for Mental Structure (January 2016). Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 67, pp. 587-612, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2711704 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-122414-033729

Russell A. Poldrack (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Psychology

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Tal Yarkoni

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Psychology ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States

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