Using fMRI to Constrain Theories of Cognition

Corey N. White, Russell A. Poldrack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Research on cognition often leads to debates that are centered on how many processes exist and how they interact to guide behavior. These debates occur across a range of domains and are often difficult to resolve with behavioral data because similar behavioral predictions can be made by models with different core assumptions. Such model mimicry limits researchers' ability to find differential support for one type of model over the other using behavioral data alone. We argue that functional neuroimaging can help overcome this problem by providing additional dependent measures to constrain model testing. Recent advances in analysis, like multivariate approaches, expand the amount and type of data available for model testing. We illustrate the benefits of this approach by highlighting imaging results that directly speak to the debate over the nature of recollection processes in memory. These results show how functional neuroimaging can advance studies of cognition by providing richer data sets for contrasting cognitive models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-83
Number of pages5
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • fMRI
  • model comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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