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Neuroimaging
 

Neuroimaging is a useful set of non-invasive methods that allows for the exploration of human brain structures and brain activity while participants are performing psychology experiments. This provides additional data that facilitate the understanding of the relation between cognitive processes and brain structures. In addition, neuroimaging provides an additional set of data that needs to be accounted for by computational cognitive neuroscience models.

The figure above shows functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) as used in a perceptual categorization automaticity study. In this condition, participants were trained to categorize abstract stimuli into two categories using a disjunctive rule. The top-left slice was collected at the beginning of the experiment (no prior practice), the top-right slice was collected after about 1,500 trials of practice, the bottom-left slice was collected after about 5,000 trials of practice, and the bottom-right slice was collected after about 11,000 trials of practice. These data shows that applying the categorization rule initially activates mostly lateral prefrontal cortex, and that the basal ganglia (mostly the putamen and caudate nucleus) become more active after extensive practice. More details on this experiment can be found here.