Is asking questions about biology without relating them to cognitive science considered on topic?

Perhaps there is an overlap with Biology?

Example questions:

5 Answers 5


They are on topic so long as they touch base with something related to cognition.

"How do dopamine agonists like amphetamine/methylphenidate affect acetylcholine signalling?" is not on topic because it can be answered completely in biochemical terms. "How do dopamine agonists like amphetamine/methylphenidate affect the symptoms of depression" would be on topic because the answer must work on the biochemical and cognitive explanatory levels.

short answer: questions about biochemicals that happen to be in the brain are better server by biology SE. Questions that involve biochemicals as agents that produce adaptive behavior are on topic.

  • This makes sense to me...
    – Josh
    Jan 19, 2012 at 22:55
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    I disagree with the tagline "They are on topic so long as they touch base with something related to cognition". However, I agree with the short-answer summary. I think the body and short answer are very different, though. Adaptive behavior is much broader than cognition. Apr 27, 2012 at 11:15
  • @ArtemKaznatcheev I understand your point and actually thought about it when writing the tag line. I mean cognition in the broadest possible sense, not the technical "higher level processes" sense. I simply chose cognition over adaptive behavior because the term is more accessible. But yeah, I completely agree with you.
    – zergylord
    Apr 27, 2012 at 20:44

My two cents:

I came here from following the Psychology proposals. Professionally, topics such as organizaional, behaviorial, and social psychology are most relevant to me. The work that I like to do tends to focus on leading and managing teams of people, and understanding the sciences behind these has always been rather interesting to me. Personally, I also have a passing interest in other psychological and sociological topics - personality, human relationships, cultural development (esp. with regards to technology and the Internet),

Technically, yes, neurobiology questions are about a cognitive science. However, I feel that lumping it in with the social sciences (psychology, sociology, anthropology) was a huge mistake. As its defined now, I think the questions have to stay. If they were to be deemed off-topic, I'd have to say the site would need to be rebranded because it's no longer about a large subset of cognitive science questions.

If everyone left it to me to choose, I'd rather have rebranded this site more of a behaviorial sciences site and focused on anthropology, psychology, sociology, and criminology (and probably a few others I'm missing). I would have left the natural-science-based questions out and only allowed the social and behaviorial science questions as on-topic.

  • If this site would become such an overwhelming success that there isn't room for those topics combined, wouldn't it be possible to split the content to a different proposal afterwards? Perhaps it is something which we already should take into account when deciding on tags. To me however, I don't see the problem of combining them at the moment. A big enough community is more important.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Jan 20, 2012 at 14:19
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    @StevenJeuris I don't know if it's possible or how difficult it would be to split a site up later. Although it might not be easily possible from a logistics standpoint. If a site exists to cover a topic and someone proposes a new site on that topic, it might be closed on Area 51 before it even gets to commitment. And even if it got commitment, you'd have to convince a group of people to leave one site and migrate to a new site that might or might not take off (esp. if the split happens after the original site leaves Beta). Although appropriate tagging would be extremely helpful, regardless. Jan 20, 2012 at 14:27
  • I guess it would indeed be very difficult to achieve. The SE platform would probably need a major overhaul to achieve such a thing. With proper tags however, users can already compose cross-site views.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Jan 20, 2012 at 14:33
  • @StevenJeuris Cross-site views? I've been hiding away on Programmers. Where can I read more about this, since I've never heard of anything like this functionality before? Jan 20, 2012 at 14:37
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    A very simplistic way is to use tag filters on StackExchange.com. This looks promising as well.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Jan 20, 2012 at 14:44

I think all neurobiology questions should be on-topic for cogsci.SE, regardless of if they have to do something with cognition or not. We have to remember that this site is a merger of many proposals, cognitive science being only one of them. If we are going to keep the 's' on cognitive sciences then we have to be inclusive to all parts of scientific brain research. A huge part of this is neuroscience and neurobiology, we cannot have a bias towards only cognitive questions.

As for the overlap with biology, this is bound to happen. It is up to the person asking the question to decide which audience they think is better suited for their question. This is much like existing overlap between sites like math.SE, stats.SE, and cs.SE. There is no reason to make a policy to try to combat overlap.

This site should be for a community interested in a topic not just the topic.

  • Any thoughts on what can be done, maybe in the FAQ, to make it more clear all cognitive sciences are included? I was rather puzzled by this comment which seems to think neuroscience (and perception)...I'm honestly not sure how they got that impression.
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 28, 2012 at 14:48
  • The word 'cognitive' has to be removed from the title. That is the only way I can think about fixing this... this is one of the problems of having the name of the site being fixed in the pre-beta stage. Apr 29, 2012 at 2:21
  • Yes, let's remove mention of cognition from our site about the study of cognition and the brain from all aspects.
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 29, 2012 at 3:12
  • @BenBrocka take a look at this comment for instance. Cognition has a technical meaning for people that study it, and another popular umbrella meaning in common dialogue. I feel that we mean it in the umbrella sense, but potential experts that see this site for the first time might interpret it in the technical sense instead and be turned off since they don't study higher-level processes Apr 29, 2012 at 3:18

Should be on topic. It truly is a "Cognitive Science."

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    Personally, I would care less about the name (Cognitive Science, Biology, acbiusdvb, ...) and more about the functionality (i.e. where it can get a better answer). Jan 19, 2012 at 21:33

IMHO such questions are better suited for biology.SE. And personally, I would sent any biochemical and cell biology questions there.

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    technically questions on neuron functioning are "cell biology", but many would be highly relevant...
    – zergylord
    Jan 19, 2012 at 21:55
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    @zergylord I agree than many may fall into the intersection. However, the question is about questions about biology without relating them to cognitive science. Jan 19, 2012 at 22:45

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