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Decoding the Brain: Neural Representation and the Limits of Multivariate Pattern Analysis in Cognitive Neuroscience

Ritchie, J. Brendan and Kaplan, David M. and Klein, Colin (2016) Decoding the Brain: Neural Representation and the Limits of Multivariate Pattern Analysis in Cognitive Neuroscience. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Since its introduction, multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA), or “neural decoding”, has transformed the field of cognitive neuroscience. Underlying its influence is a crucial inference, which we call the Decoder’s Dictum: if information can be decoded from patterns of neural activity, then this provides strong evidence about what information those patterns represent. Although the Dictum is a widely held and well-motivated principle in decoding research, it has received scant philosophical attention. We critically evaluate the Dictum, arguing that it is false: decodability is a poor guide for revealing the content of neural representations. However, we also suggest how the Dictum can be improved on, in order to better justify inferences about neural representation using MVPA.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Ritchie, J. Brendanj.brendan.w.ritchi@gmail.com
Kaplan, David M.david.kaplan@mq.edu.au
Klein, Colincolin.klein@mq.edu.au
Additional Information: Forthcoming in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Keywords: Multivariate pattern analysis; neural representation; neuroimaging; natural information
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Experimentation
Specific Sciences > Biology > Neuroscience
Depositing User: Dr J. Brendan Ritchie
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2017 13:42
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2017 13:42
Item ID: 12915
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Experimentation
Specific Sciences > Biology > Neuroscience
Date: 14 October 2016
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12915

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