The functional-cognitive framework as a tool for accelerating progress in cognitive neuroscience: On the benefits of bridging rather than reducing levels of analyses

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APA Citation: 

Vahey, N., & Whelan, R. (2016). The functional‐cognitive framework as a tool for accelerating progress in cognitive neuroscience: On the benefits of bridging rather than reducing levels of analyses. International Journal of Psychology, 51(1), 45-49. doi:10.1002/ijop.12183

Publication Topic: 
Behavior Analysis: Conceptual
CBS: Conceptual
Contextualism
Contextual Methodology and Scientific Strategy
RFT: Conceptual
Publication Type: 
Article
Language: 
English
Keyword(s): 
Functional-cognitive framework; cognitive neuroscience; cognitive proxies; reductionism
Abstract: 

The subject matter of neuroscience research is complex, and synthesizing the wealth of data from this
research to better understand mental processes is challenging. A useful strategy, therefore, may be to
explicitly distinguish between the causal effects of the environment on behaviour (i.e., functional
analyses) and the mental processes that mediate these effects (i.e., cognitive analyses). In this article
we describe how the Functional-Cognitive (F-C) framework can accelerate cognitive neuroscience
and also advance a functional treatment of brain activity. We first highlight that cognitive neuroscience
can particularly benefit from the F-C approach by providing an alternative to the problematic practice
of reducing cognitive constructs to behavioural and/or neural proxies. Next, we outline how functional
(behaviour-environment) relations can serve as a bridge between the cognitive and neural processes
by restoring mental constructs to their original role as heuristic tools. Finally, we give some examples
of how both cognitive neuroscience and traditional functional approaches can mutually benefit from
the F-C framework. 

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