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Common ground for behavioural and neuroimaging research


  • This research was supported by ARC Discovery Project DP0878858.

Scott D. Brown, PhD, School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, Aviation Building, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia. Email:


The division between cognitive research that employs neuroimaging data and cognitive research that excludes such data has led to extreme views on both sides. As in most conflicts, these extreme views reinforce each other. They are further deepened by some poor science and a cavalier attitude towards the interpretation of neuroimaging data by some practitioners. I discuss two of the most problematic aspects of the interpretation of neuroimaging data: the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent; and the difficulties of linking assumptions which link the data with theoretical constructs. Both of these problems are not unique to neuroimaging research, and errors with them certainly occur in standard behavioural psychology. Nevertheless, when executed carefully, and when interpreted cautiously, neuroimaging has the potential to contribute to the understanding of cognition.