Integrating cognitive psychology, neurology and neuroimaging

Acta Psychol (Amst). 2001 Apr;107(1-3):155-81. doi: 10.1016/s0001-6918(01)00023-3.


In the last decade, there has been a dramatic increase in research effectively integrating cognitive psychology, functional neuroimaging, and behavioral neurology. This new work is typically conducting basic research into aspects of the human mind and brain. The present review features as examples of such integrations two series of studies by the author and his colleagues. One series, employing object recognition, mental motor imagery, and mental rotation paradigms, clarifies the nature of a cognitive process, imagined spatial transformations used in shape recognition. Among other implications, it suggests that when recognizing a hand's handedness, imagining one's body movement depends on cerebrally lateralized sensory-motor structures and deciding upon handedness depends on exact match shape confirmation. The other series, using cutaneous, tactile, and auditory pitch discrimination paradigms, elucidates the function of a brain structure, the cerebellum. It suggests that the cerebellum has non-motor sensory support functions upon which optimally fine sensory discriminations depend. In addition, six key issues for this integrative approach are reviewed. These include arguments for the value and greater use of: rigorous quantitative meta-analyses of neuroimaging studies; stereotactic coordinate-based data, as opposed to surface landmark-based data; standardized vocabularies capturing the elementary component operations of cognitive and behavioral tasks; functional hypotheses about brain areas that are consistent with underlying microcircuitry; an awareness that not all brain areas implicated by neuroimaging or neurology are necessarily directly involved in the associated cognitive or behavioral task; and systematic approaches to integrations of this kind.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior / physiology
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Motion Perception / physiology
  • Neurology*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Psychology*