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It's true that some neuroimaging studies may be addressed to questions that are better resolved through traditional investigative (e.g. behavioral) techniques. In that sense, it seems fair to say that neuroimaging studies "don't necessarily tell us anything we couldn’t have found out without using a brain scanner.". That claim is consistent with the view that some neuroimaging studies tell us a heck of a lot more than we could learn from observing people's behavior without neuroimaging (especially, if we're asking questions about brain anatomy/physiology).

I agree entirely with Adam: usually, when the neuroimaging matters, it is not questions of behavior that are being illuminated. But there are exceptions. Quite frequently, neuroanatonomy will suggest the research questions that are then investigated behaviourally (eg, if the amygdala is involved, perhaps it is worth manipulating emotions).

I am late to the blog, but I wanted to add my observations.

I am a neurologist, and fellowship trained neurophysiologist. For a long time, I am have been amazed how much supposedly well-trained medical researchers prefer anatomical images over physiology studies. So, it is not surprising that the "popular press" would say cognitive neuroscience studies "don’t necessarily tell us anything we couldn’t have found out without using a brain scanner.” I am sure that there are still folks who believe that the "brain scanner" just spits out a result, rather than producing images that are read by radiologists and other specialists.

The "brain scanners" are complementary to other research techniques, and sometimes they will be the only test that works. Sometimes, not.

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