Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Cognitive neuroscience, as a discipline, links the biological systems studied by neuroscience to the processing constructs studied by psychology. By mapping these relations throughout the literature of cognitive neuroscience, we visualize the semantic structure of the discipline and point to directions for future research that will advance its integrative goal. For this purpose, network text analyses were applied to an exhaustive corpus of abstracts collected from five major journals over a 30-month period, including every study that used fMRI to investigate psychological processes. From this, we generate network maps that illustrate the relationships among psychological and anatomical terms, along with centrality statistics that guide inferences about network structure. Three terms—prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and anterior cingulate cortex—dominate the network structure with their high frequency in the literature and the density of their connections with other neuroanatomical terms. From network statistics, we identify terms that are understudied compared with their importance in the network (e.g., insula and thalamus), are underspecified in the language of the discipline (e.g., terms associated with executive function), or are imperfectly integrated with other concepts (e.g., subdisciplines like decision neuroscience that are disconnected from the main network). Taking these results as the basis for prescriptive recommendations, we conclude that semantic analyses provide useful guidance for cognitive neuroscience as a discipline, both by illustrating systematic biases in the conduct and presentation of research and by identifying directions that may be most productive for future research.