Over‐interpreting functional neuroimages

Cognitive neuroscientists use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure properties of a participant’s brain during a cognitive task. These imaging results are transformed into compelling pictures of brain activity using statistical models. I will argue that, for a broad class of experiments, neuroimaging experts have a tendency to over‐interpret the functional significance of their data. This over‐interpretation appears to follow from contentious theoretical assumptions about the mind‐brain connection, and from a propensity to conflate the anatomical location of a statistically‐significant correlation with knowledge of the mechanistic functioning at that location.
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