The goal of cognitive neuroscience is to map mental functions onto their neural substrates. We argue here that this goal requires a formal approach to the characterization of mental processes, and we present one such approach by using ontologies to describe cognitive processes and their relations. Using a classifier analysis of data from the BrainMap database, we examine the concept of "cognitive control" to determine whether the proposed component processes in this domain are mapped to independent neural systems. These results show that some subcomponents can be uniquely classified, whereas others cannot, suggesting that these different components may vary in their ontological reality. We relate these concepts to the broader emerging field of phenomics, which aims to characterize cognitive phenotypes on a global scale.
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