Interdependence of theoretical concepts and neuroimaging data

Poiesis and Praxis 6 (3-4):203-217 (2009)
Abstract
Traditionally, discussion about neuroimaging focuses on methodological improvement and neurobiological findings. In current psychiatric neuroimaging, the research focus broadens and includes concepts such as the self, personality, well-being, and psychiatric disease. This calls for the inclusion of disciplines like psychology and philosophy in a dialogue with neuroscience. Furthermore, it raises the question of how theories from these areas relate to neuroimaging findings: are results generated by objective data independent of theories? Is there an epistemological priority for the theories used for generating hypotheses and for interpreting the results? Or do theoretical concepts and neuroimaging data influence each other? In this paper, we will discuss these positions concerning the priority of concepts and data in neuroimaging and provide arguments for an interdependence of concepts and data. An awareness of these considerations may help professionals from the life sciences and humanities as well as laypersons to avoid misunderstandings and oversimplifications.
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