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About the Cognitive Atlas

The Cognitive Atlas is a collaborative knowledge building project that aims to develop a knowledge base (or ontology) that characterizes the state of current thought in cognitive science. 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. 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.

The Cognitive Atlas aims to capture knowledge from users with expertise in psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience. There are two basic kinds of knowledge in the knowledge base. Concepts and Tasks 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.

Take for example, this assertion: causal inference  is a kind of inference

Here, a meaningful statement is made by providing a relation (italicized) between two terms.

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. To participate, you will need to request an account.

The project is led by Russell Poldrack, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. It is supported by grant OAC-1649658 from the National Science Foundation. It was previously supposed by grant RO1MH082795 from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Additional Acknowledgements

Data on Disorders has been provided by the Disease Ontology (DO) database, read more at NAR, reference: Schriml LM, Arze C, Nadendla S, Chang YW, Mazaitis M, Felix V, Feng G, Kibbe WA. Disease Ontology: a backbone for disease semantic integration. Nucleic Acids Res, 40:D940-D946, 2012. 22080554; PMC3245088; 10.1093/nar/gkr972.

Published Research

Poldrack RA, Kittur A, Kalar D, Miller E, Seppa C, Gil Y, Parker DS, Sabb FW and Bilder RM (2011). The Cognitive Atlas: Towards a knowledge foundation for cognitive neuroscience. Front. Neuroinform. 5:17. doi: 10.3389/fninf.2011.00017

Bilder, R. M., Sabb, F. W., Parker, D. S., Kalar, D., Chu, W. W., Fox, J., Freimer, N. B., & Poldrack, R. A. (2009). Cognitive ontologies for neuropsychiatric phenomics research. Cogn Neuropsychiatry, 14 (4-5), 419-50. [ link ]

Kittur, A., & Kraut, R. E. (2008). Harnessing the wisdom of crowds in wikipedia: Quality through coordination. In CSCW 2008: Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work.. New York: ACM Press. [ link ]

Miller, E., Seppa, C., Kittur, A., Sabb, F., & Poldrack, R. A. (2010). The cognitive atlas: Employing interaction design processes to facilitate collaborative ontology creation. Available from Nature Precedings