February 24, 2021

Getting Blood from a Stone: Improving Neural Inferences without Additional Neural Data

In recent years, the cognitive neuroscience literature has come under criticism for containing many low-powered studies, limiting the ability to make reliable statistical inferences. Typically, the suggestion for increas- ing power is to collect more data with neural signals. However, many studies in cognitive neuroscience use parameters estimated from behavioral data in order to make inferences about neural signals (such as fMRI BOLD signal). In this paper, we explore how cognitive neuroscientists can learn more about their neuroimaging signal by collecting data on behavior alone. We demonstrate through simulation that knowing more about the marginal distribution of behavioral parameters can improve inferences about the mapping between cognitive processes and neural data. In realistic settings of the correlation between cognitive and neural parameters, additional behavioral data can lead to the same improvement in the precision of inferences more cheaply and easily than collecting additional data from subjects in a neuroimaging study. This means that when conducting an neuroimaging study, researchers now have two knobs to turn in a design analysis: the number of subjects collected in the scanner and the number of behavioral subjects collected outside the scanner (in the lab or online).

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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