I'm asking this in light of the Beta site closure announcements question, but I don't want to steal its thunder.

Realizing that we share at least some of the subject matter in common with the proposal for http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/38069/neuroinformatics, would it make sense to absorb this Area 51 proposal? I, personally, would enjoy seeing more neuro content on our site, and I know that there are a handful of others as well.

Not many here may be steeped in (or interested in) bioinformatics, but I think that the neuroinformatics would involve more issues related to anatomy and physiology than the data and genome crunching that bioinformatics proper demands.

I don't know if this would gain us a larger population of users, but I think it would gain a set of people who were passionate enough about it to propose it on Area 51, and who could likely be active contributors our site. Some of them may not even know that we exist.

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    This seems fairly on topic for us. Their sample questions are mostly about tools for neuroimaging but I think they could be a good fit here
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 26, 2012 at 2:47
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    I also like the broad idea of seeing whether there are other proposals on Area51 that could be brought into cogsci.se. Apr 26, 2012 at 2:55
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    here's one area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/14151/sleeping
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 26, 2012 at 4:18
  • @BenBrocka I am skeptical of how good of a fit the sleeping proposal would fit here; that proposal seems to be most of the self-help type, which I thought was an area we were trying to avoid. Apr 27, 2012 at 4:20
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    @ArtemKaznatcheev the health ones aren't, the ones about lucid dreams and sleep schedules certainly can be
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 28, 2012 at 14:28

3 Answers 3


I had a look at the sample questions on Area 51. They generally concern neural imaging, and processing neural data, etc. I think these questions are on topic at the moment at Cogsci.SE under the broad heading of neuroscience.

I'd be happy for the word neuroinformatics to be added to the list of acceptable topics in the FAQ.

I wonder how this group could be invited to get involved in cogsci.se and whether they are interested?


While I like the idea I do want to raise a couple of concerns.

As it is we already have somewhat of an overlap with Biology.SE when it comes to neuroscience. There are two existing meta posts about where to draw the line:

For practical reason - making it easier to decide which question goes where - I agree with zergylord: "They are on topic so long as they touch base with something related to cognition.".

You could state that neuroinformatics touches closely to cognition since usually that's what it aims to replicate to some extent.

I'm all for absorbing this Area51 proposal, since I'm guessing it's too much of a niche and won't make it on it's own. However, we do need to be fair, and at least consider whether or not part of the proposal would be more suitable on Biology.SE.

  • I don't think anyone has come to the point of quibbling over neuro questions yet. We should certainly bring this up over there before all is said and done, and both sites could use the boost in userbase, but I think they'd agree that we "need" it more. There's bound to be some overlap anyway. Apr 26, 2012 at 12:43
  • It's important to prevent overlap when we can. E.g. It's one of the closing reasons for Theoretical Physics. It makes it clearer for users and makes moderation easier. I feel if there is a clear line which can be drawn, we should.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Apr 26, 2012 at 12:54
  • Well, eventually we're both going to have to have a firmer faq anyway, but this is one of those topics where there is going to be overlap and not much can be done about it. I don't think there have been any non-trivial examples which didn't have a firm destination (so far). Such is life on SE, some things straddle multiple sites, migration saves the day. Apr 26, 2012 at 12:59
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    @StevenJeuris TP was closed because it was entirely overlapped by Physics. Overlap is NOT a problem for the most part. Cog sci is certainly NOT a narrow subset of Biology so we shouldn't be worrying about that closure reason.
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 26, 2012 at 16:27
  • Also, I agree with Artem here, I think neuroscience questions are just plain on topic, I don't think touching on cognition directly should be a requirement. It's basically splitting hairs, knowing about cognition eventually involves some lower-level processes, and like a good Reductionist I think it's very important to keep the lower-level stuff here unless it's irrelevant to the brain
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 29, 2012 at 3:17

My take on this (which was rather cross-posted on the area51 site) is that it's a good idea, but that "Cognitive Science" is too limiting a name. Our lab would do very well to have a place to discuss stuff like this, but we do affective neuroscience, and a smattering of perception research and neurodegenerative disease work.

I'd support merging them and calling the result "Neuroscience."

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    Converting everything to just Neuroscience might not give proper recognition to the Psychology proposal that was absorbed into CogSci during its formation. However, I think you are on to something here that may address some of the audience issues that the site has been having lately. Let's see what others think. Apr 27, 2012 at 22:01
  • (I think everyone can forgive you for cross posting this once, as the information should reach the maximum number of people) Apr 27, 2012 at 22:02
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    Note that the name is "Cognitive Science__s__" but I agree that the name is limiting. Unfortunately, Neuroscience would be an even more limiting name, and something like "Brain Sciences" just sounds silly. Apr 27, 2012 at 23:29
  • Neuroscience is way worse for the same reason you site. You're giving up a general, interdisciplinary field for a much more narrowly focused one. While the name seems to make sense for what you want, it does not fit the site as a whole
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 29, 2012 at 2:58
  • So: is there a good name? I'll grant that neuroscience is limiting in a different way and that "Brain Science" kind of sucks. I'm hoping for a term that covers both measuring the Stroop effect behaviorally and imaging techniques for animal models of multiple sclerosis.
    – Nate
    Apr 30, 2012 at 22:26
  • @Nate Brain Science suffers from the same issue as Neuroscience as a title, plus it is very informal. There are some proposals: Mind and Brain, Cognitive Science and Psychology, and Psychology and Neuroscience. Why don't you try asking a few questions related to your lab on the main site? We are still in flux with our scope (and maybe even name) so your contribution would help us better define ourselves. May 14, 2012 at 20:35

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