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Cognitive Atlas

Knowledge base (or ontology) that characterizes the state of current thought in cognitive science that captures knowledge from users with expertise in psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience. There are two basic kinds of knowledge in the knowledge base. Terms provide definitions and properties for individual concepts and tasks. Assertions describe relations between terms in the same way that a sentence describes relations between parts of speech. The goal is to develop a knowledge base that will support annotation of data in databases, as well as supporting improved discourse in the community. It is open to all interested researchers. A fundamental feature of the knowledge base is the desire and ability to capture not just agreement but also disagreement regarding definitions and assertions. Thus, if you see a definition or assertion that you disagree with, then you can assert and describe your disagreement. The project is led by Russell Poldrack, Professor of Psychology and Neurobiology at the University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with the UCLA Center for Computational Biology (A. Toga, PI) and UCLA Consortium for Neuropsychiatric Phenomics (R. Bilder, PI). Most tasks used in cognitive psychology research are not identical across different laboratories or even within the same laboratory over time. A major advantage of anchoring cognitive ontologies to the measurement level is that the strategy for determining changes in task properties is easier than tracking changes in concept definitions and usage. The process is easier because task parameters are usually (if not always) operationalized objectively, offering a clear basis to judge divergence in methods. The process is also easier because most tasks are based on prior tasks, and thus can more readily be considered descendants in a phylogenetic sense.

URL: http://www.cognitiveatlas.org/

Resource ID: nif-0000-24591     Resource Type: Resource     Version: Latest Version


cognitive function, cognitive phenotype, cognitive process, cognitive science, cognitive state, human, cognitive ontology, cognitive task, experimental task, mental construct, concept, task, eeg, meg, electrocorticography, magnetic resonance, ontology, pet, spect, knowledge environment

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Account required, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, The community can contribute to this resource


Cognitive Atlas


cognitive atlas - a collaboratively developed cognitive science ontology

Parent Organization

Funding Information

NIMH, RO1MH082795

Listed By




Original Submitter


Version Status


Submitted On

12:00am May 8, 2012

Originated From


Changes from Previous Version

    No Changes

    Version 3

    Created 2 weeks ago by Christie Wang

    Version 2

    Created 2 weeks ago by Christie Wang

    Version 1

    Created 3 years ago by Anonymous

    The cognitive atlas: toward a knowledge foundation for cognitive neuroscience.

    • Poldrack RA
    • Front Neuroinform
    • 2011 16

    Cognitive neuroscience aims to map mental processes onto brain function, which begs the question of what "mental processes" exist and how they relate to the tasks that are used to manipulate and measure them. This topic has been addressed informally in prior work, but we propose that cumulative progress in cognitive neuroscience requires a more systematic approach to representing the mental entities that are being mapped to brain function and the tasks used to manipulate and measure mental processes. We describe a new open collaborative project that aims to provide a knowledge base for cognitive neuroscience, called the Cognitive Atlas (accessible online at http://www.cognitiveatlas.org), and outline how this project has the potential to drive novel discoveries about both mind and brain.

    Cognitive ontologies for neuropsychiatric phenomics research.

    • Bilder RM
    • Cogn Neuropsychiatry
    • 2009 27

    Now that genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are dominating the landscape of genetic research on neuropsychiatric syndromes, investigators are being faced with complexity on an unprecedented scale. It is now clear that phenomics, the systematic study of phenotypes on a genome-wide scale, comprises a rate-limiting step on the road to genomic discovery. To gain traction on the myriad paths leading from genomic variation to syndromal manifestations, informatics strategies must be deployed to navigate increasingly broad domains of knowledge and help researchers find the most important signals. The success of the Gene Ontology project suggests the potential benefits of developing schemata to represent higher levels of phenotypic expression. Challenges in cognitive ontology development include the lack of formal definitions of key concepts and relations among entities, the inconsistent use of terminology across investigators and time, and the fact that relations among cognitive concepts are not likely to be well represented by simple hierarchical "tree" structures. Because cognitive concept labels are labile, there is a need to represent empirical findings at the cognitive test indicator level. This level of description has greater consistency, and benefits from operational definitions of its concepts and relations to quantitative data. Considering cognitive test indicators as the foundation of cognitive ontologies carries several implications, including the likely utility of cognitive task taxonomies. The concept of cognitive "test speciation" is introduced to mark the evolution of paradigms sufficiently unique that their results cannot be "mated" productively with others in meta-analysis. Several projects have been initiated to develop cognitive ontologies at the Consortium for Neuropsychiatric Phenomics (www.phenomics.ucla.edu), in the hope that these ultimately will enable more effective collaboration, and facilitate connections of information about cognitive phenotypes to other levels of biological knowledge. Several free web applications are available already to support examination and visualisation of cognitive concepts in the literature (PubGraph, PubAtlas, PubBrain) and to aid collaborative development of cognitive ontologies (Phenowiki and the Cognitive Atlas). It is hoped that these tools will help formalise inference about cognitive concepts in behavioural and neuroimaging studies, and facilitate discovery of the genetic bases of both healthy cognition and cognitive disorders.