On the difficulties of integrating evidence from fMRI and electrophysiology in cognitive neuroscience

Benjamin Y. Hayden, Michael L. Platt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and single unit physiology are two of the most widely-used methods in cognitive neuroscience and neuroeconomics. Despite the fact that practitioners of both methods share a common goal - understanding the mechanisms underlying behaviour and cognition - their efforts are rarely directly linked. This chapter considers some of the reasons for apparent discrepancies between findings of fMRI and electrophysiological studies. It examines these problems through the lens of two case studies - decision making under uncertainty and fictive learning - derived from personal research. Despite this narrow focus, these arguments can extend to other areas of study. It is shown that major differences in the neural events measured by the two methods, the behavioural techniques employed with animal and human subjects, and the intellectual history and unique culture of each discipline, contribute to difficulties in providing a wholly synthetic account of the mechanisms underlying cognition and decision making. These observations endorse more collaborative efforts conducting parallel research using analogous, if not identical, behavioural techniques using both brain imaging and single unit physiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDecision Making, Affect, and Learning
Subtitle of host publicationAttention and Performance XXIII
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191725623
ISBN (Print)9780199600434
StatePublished - May 1 2011

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The International Association for the study of Attention and Performance, 2011. All rights reserved.


  • Cognition
  • Decision making
  • Electrophysical studies
  • Fictive learning
  • Fmri
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging

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