Strong inference in functional neuroimaging

de Zubicaray, Greig (2012) Strong inference in functional neuroimaging. Australian Journal of Psychology, 64 1: 19-28. doi:10.1111/j.1742-9536.2011.00047.x

Author de Zubicaray, Greig
Title Strong inference in functional neuroimaging
Journal name Australian Journal of Psychology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0004-9530
Publication date 2012-03-01
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1111/j.1742-9536.2011.00047.x
Volume 64
Issue 1
Start page 19
End page 28
Total pages 10
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Language eng
Formatted abstract
A recurring question for cognitive science is whether functional neuroimaging data can provide evidence for or against psychological theories. As posed, the question reflects an adherence to a popular scientific method known as 'strong inference'. The method entails constructing multiple hypotheses (Hs) and designing experiments so that alternative possible outcomes will refute at least one (i.e., 'falsify' it). In this article, after first delineating some well-documented limitations of strong inference, I provide examples of functional neuroimaging data being used to test Hs from rival modular information-processing models of spoken word production. 'Strong inference' for neuroimaging involves first establishing a systematic mapping of 'processes to processors' for a common modular architecture. Alternate Hs are then constructed from psychological theories that attribute the outcome of manipulating an experimental factor to two or more distinct processing stages within this architecture. Hs are then refutable by a finding of activity differentiated spatially and chronometrically by experimental condition. When employed in this manner, the data offered by functional neuroimaging may be more useful for adjudicating between accounts of processing loci than behavioural measures.
Keyword Cognitive models
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Special Issue: Cognitive modeling ‘versus’ cognitive neuroscience: Competing approaches or compatible levels of explanation? Guest editors: Stephan Lewandowsky and Max Coltheart

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collection: School of Psychology Publications
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