Ward Wins Popper Prize from the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science


The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science has named Zina B. Ward (Florida State) the winner of its 2022 Popper Prize.

The Popper Prize, named for Karl Popper, is awarded to the best articles appearing in the journal which concern themselves with topics in the philosophy of science to which Popper made a significant contribution, as determined by the Editors-in-Chief and the British Society for the Philosophy of Science Committee.

Professor Ward won the prize for her “Registration Pluralism and the Cartographic Approach to Data Aggregation across Brains“. Here’s what the judges had to say about it:

In ‘Registration Pluralism and the Cartographic Approach to Data Aggregation across Brains’, Zina B. Ward tackles a methodological issue of central importance in cognitive neuroscience: how to register data from multiple subjects in a common spatial framework despite significant variation in human brain structure, that is, how to map activity in different subjects’ neural structures onto a single template or into a common representational space. In a typical fMRI-based investigation, experimenters run a series of subjects through a scanner and, if the experiment is fruitful, draw conclusions, from the data collected, about the functional contributions of certain areas of the brain—that, for instance, the ACC regulates emotional responses to pain. Such work presupposes normalization of the images from various subjects, so as to allow experimenters to claim that, across subjects, the same area of the brain exhibited elevated activity during scanning. The requirements of normalization might seem to pose a mere technical problem; perhaps with hard work and ingenuity, neuroscientists can identify the single, correct method for pairing brain areas or regions across subjects. Ward argues against this kind of monism. For principled reasons to do with the extent and nature of variation in neural structure—for example, variation in the location of sulci relative to cytoarchitectonic boundaries—Ward argues that the choice of spatial framework and method of registration must vary, depending on the purpose of a given study. No single method will simultaneously effect all of the correct pairings of relevance to cognitive neuroscience. From a practical standpoint, such methodological pluralism may seem daunting, and it might also seem excessively theory-laden. In response to such concerns, Ward offers and defends a series of constructive proposals concerning how to implement registration pluralism.

For its impressive theoretical and practical contributions to an issue of central importance in cognitive neuroscience, the BJPS Co-Editors-in-Chief and the BSPS Committee judge ‘Registration Pluralism and the Cartographic Approach to Data Aggregation across Brains’ to be worthy of the 2022 BJPS Popper Prize.

The prize includes £500.

Three others received honorable mention. They are:

You can learn more about the Popper Prize and see a list of past winners here.

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Dan Weiskopf
Dan Weiskopf
1 year ago

Congrats, Zina! Very well-deserved.