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MATLAB for Brain and Cognitive Scientists (The MIT Press)

MATLAB for Brain and Cognitive Scientists (The MIT Press)

Author: Mike X Cohen

Publisher: The MIT Press


Publish Date: May 12, 2017

ISBN-10: 0262035820

Pages: 576

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

MATLAB changed my life. It wasn’t the first programming language I learned (that was Basic) nor was it the only one (C++, HTML/CSS, and a few others not worth mentioning). But somehow MATLAB has the right balance of usability, visualization, and widespread use to make it one of the most powerful tools in a scientist’s toolbox. I started learning MATLAB in the context of computational modeling, and the MATLAB environment allowed me to understand and to visualize models and to explore parameter spaces when staring at equations gave me nothing but a vague and superficial feeling (coupled with a stronger feeling of anxiety and fear that I was in way over my head).

When I started using MATLAB for data analysis, the ease of inspecting, implementing, and modifying code and the ease of plotting data at each step of the analysis gave me the deep and satisfying feeling of comprehension that reading online tutorials and methods papers could not provide. In fairness, MATLAB is not the only programming language or environment that can be used to understand and to implement data analyses, and I have too little expertise in other languages to claim unequivocally that MATLAB is The Best. It became my go-to tool because so many neuroscience toolboxes and analysis scripts are already written in MATLAB, and because almost everyone around me was using MATLAB. But I have yet to encounter a data analysis or visualization problem I could not solve in MATLAB, so my motivation to gain expertise in other languages is fairly low.

I wrote this book because I want you to be able to use MATLAB the way I use MATLAB—as a means to two ends: (1) to understand data analyses and (2) to analyze data. The Internet is ripe with MATLAB introductions and tutorials, many of which are excellent, and I encourage you to find and go through them. But most of them will guide you gently and slowly from total novice to dipping your toes into the water, and then promptly drop you in the middle of the ocean. What we as a psychology/neuroscience community are lacking is a corpus of resources that will help you gain real expertise in MATLAB with a focus on the applications that you will actually use in your scientific career. I hope this book is a useful contribution to building such an educational corpus. Above all else, I hope that this book helps you to develop and sharpen your skills as a scientist. Good luck and have fun!

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