We need theories to make sense of evidence—to transform patterns of physical occurrences into something meaningful, i.e., data. This relationship between theory and evidence is often at least partially opaque, particularly in a field like neuroscience that often aims to use physical evidence to characterize mental, and in some cases social, events. Neuroscience navigates this relationship by offering mechanistic descriptions of “how” psychological processes operate. Yet, this line of inquiry relies on theoretical assumptions that are not fully tethered to the data itself. What kind of knowledge does neuroscience offer that psychology and behavioral sciences do not? How contingent on psychological theories is neuroscientific understanding?
Moderated by Andrew Goldman, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience at Columbia University and Lan Li, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience at Columbia University.