Combining fMRI and behavioral measures to examine the process of human learning

Elisabeth A. Karuza, Lauren L. Emberson, Richard N. Aslin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Prior to the advent of fMRI, the primary means of examining the mechanisms underlying learning were restricted to studying human behavior and non-human neural systems. However, recent advances in neuroimaging technology have enabled the concurrent study of human behavior and neural activity. We propose that the integration of behavioral response with brain activity provides a powerful method of investigating the process through which internal representations are formed or changed. Nevertheless, a review of the literature reveals that many fMRI studies of learning either (1) focus on outcome rather than process or (2) are built on the untested assumption that learning unfolds uniformly over time. We discuss here various challenges faced by the field and highlight studies that have begun to address them. In doing so, we aim to encourage more research that examines the process of learning by considering the interrelation of behavioral measures and fMRI recording during learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-206
Number of pages14
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
StatePublished - Mar 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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