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Cognitive Neuroscience studies the mental processes underlying cognition and behaviour. By interlinking behavioural studies from Psychology with state-of-the-art Neuroimaging methods, we are able to gain insight into how processes such as decision-making and learning evolve.
However, this does not come without its challenges. For example, the replication crisis faced by Cognitive Neuroscience, along with other biological sciences, is a very real issue whereby independent researchers fail to replicate findings from publications using the same experimental design.
This issue is attributed to many reasons, such as low statistical power and differences in analytical methods. The advent of big data offers solutions to these challenges. Online platforms designed specifically to allow neuroimaging data and experimental tasks to be shared between researchers is promoting collaboration across the discipline. Such collaboration will make research more accessible for under-funded research groups, could lead to greater statistically-powered findings, and help build a greater understanding of what is happening in the brain.
Alternatively, the use of large-scale behavioural tasks through online platforms such as Amazon Mechanical Turk or on smartphones has surged in popularity in recent years. By developing complex decision-making tasks that people can perform in their homes, researchers can incorporate natural features from everyday life in their analyses, allowing us to understand cognitions and brain functions relevant for real life.
In this talk, Jak will review some of the challenges faced by the Cognitive Neuroscience discipline, and the subsequent solutions that open sourcing and big data can help to reveal. He will then discuss an alternative view, outlining how big data from large-scale behavioural tasks performed in naturalistic environments has the potential to further benefit the discipline.
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Jak previously completed a degree in Psychology at the University of East Anglia and is now studying for a Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London (UCL).