Original Paper


, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 105-114

First online:

What is the “Cognitive” in Cognitive Neuroscience?

  • Carrie FigdorAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience, University of Iowa Email author 

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This paper argues that the cognitive neuroscientific use of ordinary mental terms to report research results and draw implications can contribute to public confusion and misunderstanding regarding neuroscience results. This concern is raised at a time when cognitive neuroscientists are increasingly required by funding agencies to link their research to specific results of public benefit, and when neuroethicists have called for greater attention to public communication of neuroscience. The paper identifies an ethical dimension to the problem and presses for greater sensitivity and responsibility among neuroscientists regarding their use of such terms.


Cognitive neuroscience Folk psychology Research results Translational implications Public communication Media ethics Science reporting