Decoding the brain

neural representation and the limits of multivariate pattern analysis in cognitive neuroscience

J.Brendan Ritchie, David Michael Kaplan, Colin Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581–607
Number of pages27
JournalBritish Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Volume70
Issue number2
Early online date6 Sep 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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