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Trends Cogn Sci. 2011 Jun;15(6):272-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2011.04.002. Epub 2011 May 24.

Reciprocal relations between cognitive neuroscience and formal cognitive models: opposites attract?

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Cognitive Science Center Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam, Plantage Muidergracht 24, 1018 TV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Cognitive neuroscientists study how the brain implements particular cognitive processes such as perception, learning, and decision-making. Traditional approaches in which experiments are designed to target a specific cognitive process have been supplemented by two recent innovations. First, formal cognitive models can decompose observed behavioral data into multiple latent cognitive processes, allowing brain measurements to be associated with a particular cognitive process more precisely and more confidently. Second, cognitive neuroscience can provide additional data to inform the development of formal cognitive models, providing greater constraint than behavioral data alone. We argue that these fields are mutually dependent; not only can models guide neuroscientific endeavors, but understanding neural mechanisms can provide key insights into formal models of cognition.

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