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Dr David Kaplan

BA UCSD, PhD Duke.

David Kaplan

Contact Details

Office : 3.822
Phone : +61 2 9850 2943
Fax : +61 2 9850 6059
email :
Homepage :

External Address

Department of Cognitive Science
Australian Hearing Hub
16 University Avenue
Macquarie University NSW 2109


I am a Lecturer in the Department of Cognitive Science and an Associate Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD) at Macquarie University. In 2007, I completed my PhD at Duke University. From 2007-2009, I was a James S. McDonnell postdoctoral fellow in the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology (PNP) Program at Washington University in St. Louis. From 2009-2013, I completed postdoctoral training in the neurophysiology laboratory of Dr Lawrence Snyder at Washington University in St. Louis - School of Medicine. During this training, I led a project investigating movement planning and the sensory basis of arm position signals in the posterior parietal cortex.

My current research is organised into two interrelated streams. One research stream addresses the foundations of cognitive science including methodological, theoretical, and explanatory issues in cognitive science and neuroscience. The other research stream addresses the neural mechanisms underlying sensorimotor integration and movement planning, with a particular focus on reach planning in the posterior parietal cortex.


  • Promotion to Senior Lecturer (Level C) (2016), Kaplan, D.
  • Macquarie University Faculty of Human Sciences Dean’s Citation for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (2016), de Wit, B., Badcock, N., Kaplan, D., Williams, M., & Richardson, C. "For implementing brain-imaging technology in first year Cognitive Science laboratory classes, providing an unprecedented learning experience that allows students to visualize their own brain activity.”
  • Macquarie University Faculty of Human Sciences Extra Mile Award (2015), Kaplan, D.M. "For exemplary effort, productivity, public service and innovation."
  • Macquarie University Faculty of Human Sciences Extra Mile Award (2015), Lukin, A., Bishop, B., Hubbard, M., McKnight, L., Nicholas, M., Loveday, A., Robredo Moran, S., Moore, S., Murray, J., Barnes, S., Finkbeiner, M., Sutton, J., Kaplan, D.M., Brooks, K., McMahon, C., Boag, S., Hayden, J., Hadley, F. Newall, C., Harrison, N. "For the faculty HDR administrative team for outstanding and effective customer service, as well as an ability to problem solve and provide support."

Recent Grants Awarded

  • ARC CCD Neural Markers Training Scheme (2018) "Investigating the neural mechanisms underlying Bayesian sensorimotor learning using transcranial magnetic stimulation." Kaplan, D., Sowman, P., Sutton, J., & Hewitson, C. ($5,400)
  • Macquarie University Strategic Priority Grants Scheme (2018) “NeuroLab – Integrated digital platform for lab delivery and education in cognitive and brain sciences.” Kaplan, D.M., & de Wit, B. ($146,628)
  • Macquarie University Innovation and Scholarship Program (ISP) (2016) "A scalable, cost-effective, and highly immersive lab-based approach to undergraduate teaching in the cognitive and brain sciences." de Wit, B. & Kaplan, D.M. ($55,073)
  • Macquarie University Research Development Grant (2016 - 2017) "The science of human responsibility: An interdisciplinary approach to understanding the sense of agency." Polito, V., Klein, C., Kaplan, D., Langdon, R., Hitchens, M., Zopf, R., Carruthers, G., & Woody, E. ($49,962)
  • ARC CCD Neural Markers Training Scheme (2016) "Understanding differences in neural inhibitory processes between schizophrenia and neurotypical human visual cortex using fMRI and population receptive field mapping." Wardle, S., Seymour, K., Kaplan, D., Langdon, R., Coltheart, M., & Clifford, C. ($20,500)
  • Macquarie University Research Infrastructure Block Grant Scheme (2015) "Using a robotic arm with virtual reality to better understand the temporal dynamics of human information processing." Finkbeiner, M., Sowman, P., Kaplan, D.M., & Carlson, T. ($100,000)
  • ARC CCD Cross Program Support Scheme (2015) "Investigating the effects of visual feedback information on body representation, sense of ownership and agency using next-generation virtual reality." Pritchard, S., Kaplan, D., Polito, V., Zopf, R., Williams, M., & Coltheart, M. ($38,000)
  • Macquarie University Faculty of Human Sciences Equipment Grant (2015) "A large-format, 32-inch touchscreen and a consumer-grade hand motion and gesture tracker." Pritchard, S., Kaplan, D., Zopf, R., Polito, V., & Williams, M. ($2,738)
  • Macquarie University New Staff Grant (2014) "Representation of limb position for reaching in the posterior parietal cortex." Kaplan, D.M. ($20,000)
  • Macquarie University Enhancement Program (EP) Grant. (2014) "Building a problem-based and research-driven undergraduate program in Cognitive Science." Kaplan, D.M. ($25,000)
  • Monash University School of Philosophical, Historical, and International Studies (SoPHIS) Internal Research Grant (2013) Kaplan, D.M. ($2,200)

Media Engagement

Selected Publications

Book Chapters

  • Kaplan, D.M. (2015). Explanation and levels in cognitive neuroscience. In J. Clausen & N. Levy (Eds.), Handbook of Neuroethics. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
  • Craver, C.F., & Kaplan, D.M. (2011). Towards a mechanistic philosophy of neuroscience. In S. French & J. Saatsi (Eds.), Continuum companion to the philosophy of science. London: Continuum Press.


  • Carlson, T., Goddard, E., Kaplan, D.M., Klein, C., & Ritchie, J.B. (In Press). Ghosts in machine learning for cognitive neuroscience: Moving from data to theory. NeuroImage. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.08.019
  • de Wit, B., Badcock, N.A., Grootswagers, T., Hardwick, K., Teichmann, L., Wehrman, J., Williams, M., & Kaplan, D.M. (2017). Neurogaming technology meets neuroscience education: A cost-effective, scalable, and highly portable undergraduate teaching laboratory for neuroscience. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 15(2), A104-A109. [Link]
  • Ritchie, J.B., Kaplan, D.M., & Klein, C. (In Press). Decoding the brain: Neural representation and the limits of multivariate pattern analysis in cognitive neuroscience. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. doi:10.1101/127233
  • Kaplan, D.M., & Craver, C.F. (2016). A registration problem for functional fingerprinting. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 39, e124. doi:10.1017/S0140525X15001582
  • Pritchard, S.C., Zopf, R., Polito, V., Kaplan, D.M., & Williams, M.A. [Note: The first three authors contributed equally to writing this manuscript.] (2016). Non-hierarchical influence of visual form, touch and position cues on embodiment, agency and presence in virtual reality. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1649. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01649
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2015). Moving parts: The natural alliance between dynamical and mechanistic modeling approaches. Biology & Philosophy, 30(6), 757-786. doi:10.1007/s10539-015-9499-6
  • Patel, G.H., Kaplan, D.M., & Snyder, L.H. (2014). Topographic organization in the brain: Searching for general principles. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 18(7), 351-363. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2014.03.008
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2013). The complex interplay between three-dimensional egocentric and allocentric spatial representation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36(5), 553-554. doi:10.1017/S0140525X13000423
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2012). How to demarcate the boundaries of cognition. Biology & Philosophy, 27(4), 545-570. doi:10.1007/s10539-012-9308-4
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2012). Review of "Hatfield, G. (2009). Perception and Cognition: Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.". Philosophical Psychology, 25(3), 463-468.
  • Kaplan, D.M., & Snyder, L.H. (2012). The need for speed: Eye-position signal dynamics in the parietal cortex. Neuron, 76(6), 1048-1051. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2012.12.005
  • Kubanek, J., & Kaplan, D.M. (2012). Evidence for a decision variable in the human motor system. The Journal of Neuroscience, 32(24), 8110-8111. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1813-12.2012
  • Goren, G., Kaplan, D.M., Little, D.Y., Lankow, B., Sherwin, J., Suter, B., & Thaler, L. (2011). Towards an integrated framework for perception and action. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 5, 20. doi:10.3389/fnsys.2011.00020
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2011). Explanation and description in computational neuroscience. Synthese, 183(3), 339-373. doi:10.1007/s11229-011-9970-0
  • Kaplan, D.M., & Bechtel, B. (2011). Dynamical models: An alternative or complement to mechanistic explanations? Topics in Cognitive Science, 3(2), 438–444. doi:10.1111/j.1756-8765.2011.01147.x
  • Kaplan, D.M., & Craver, C.F. (2011). The explanatory force of dynamical and mathematical Models in neuroscience: A mechanistic perspective. Philosophy of Science, 78(4), 601-627. doi:10.1086/661755
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2005). Review of "Brook, A., & Akins, K. (Eds.). (2005). Cognition and Brain: The Philosophy and Neuroscience Movement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press". Philosophical Psychology, 21, 707-712.
  • Rosenberg, A., & Kaplan, D.M. (2005). How to reconcile physicalism with antireductionism about biology. Philosophy of Science, 72, 43-68. doi:10.1086/428389

Conference Presentations, Colloquia, and other presentations

  • Kaplan, D. (2017, November). Why teaching is a good thing. Colloquium at the CCD Early Career Researcher Workshop, Macquarie University.
  • de Wit, B. & Kaplan, D.M. (2017, September). Introducing neurogaming technology to neuroscience education: Creating a portable undergraduate teaching laboratory. Poster session presented at the International Science of Learning Conference: Research to Reality, Brisbane.
  • de Wit, B., & Kaplan, D. (2016, November). Active learning for student engagement and research-driven learning. Invited presentation given at the Macquarie University Learning and Teaching Exchange event, Sydney. [Link]
  • Hewitson, C., Sowman, P., & Kaplan, D. (2016, November). Interlimb generalisation of Bayesian sensorimotor learning occurs in extrinsic coordinates. Poster session presented at the 6th Australian Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference (ACNS), Shoal Bay.
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2016, June). Explaining brains? A challenge for mechanistic integration in neuroscience. Keynote paper presented at the Polish Academy of Sciences, Mechanistic Integration and Unification in Cognitive Science Workshop, Warsaw, Poland.
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2016, June). Computation and representation in cognitive neuroscience. Symposium conducted at the Annual Meeting of the International Association for Computing and Philosophy, Ferrara, Italy.
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2016, March). Timescales in neuroscience: Some reflections. Colloquium at the Problems of Scale Workshop, University of Wollongong, Wollongong.
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2015, November). Career pathways for early career researchers and students. Presentation given at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders Annual Workshop, Macquarie University, Sydney.
  • Pritchard, S.C., Zopf, R., Polito, V., Kaplan, D., & Williams, M. (2015, November). Using consumer-grade virtual reality to investigate body ownership and agency. Poster session presented at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders Annual Workshop, Macquarie University, Sydney.
  • Badcock, N.A., de Wit, B., & Kaplan, D. (2015, September). Measuring brain activity. Invited presentation given at the Macquarie University Open Day, Sydney.
  • Badcock, N.A., de Wit, B., & Kaplan, D. (2015, July). Cognitive and brain sciences: Measuring brain activity. Presentation given at the Macquarie University Discovery Day, Sydney.
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2014, October). Neural noise and the data/phenomena distinction. Colloquium at the Unit for the History and Philosophy of Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney.
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2014, August). Sensorimotor transformations in the parietal cortex: Knowns and unknowns. Paper presented at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders Annual Workshop, Macquarie University, Sydney.
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2014, May). Planning to move? Sensorimotor integration and movement planning in the brain. Colloquium at the Department of Cognitive Science 3M Research Fiesta, Macquarie University, Sydney.
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2014, April). Re-envisioning the debate over extended cognition. Colloquium at the Cognition in Context Colloquium Series, Macquarie University, Sydney.
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2013, November). Signals and noise in neuroscience. Invited paper presented at the Experimentation in Neuroscience Conference, Pittsburgh, USA.
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2013, March). Explaining the mind and brain. Invited colloquium at the Department of Philosophy, Macquarie University, Sydney.
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2011, April). Explanation, embodiment, and neural representation. Invited colloquium at the Department of Philosophy/ARC Center for Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Macquarie University, Sydney.
  • Kaplan, D.M., & Snyder, L.H. (2010, November). Walking the walk: An interim report on cross-disciplinary collaboration in cognitive neuroscience. Colloquium at the PNP/Medical School Seminar, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, USA.
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2010, March). Decomposition, Description, and Explanation in Visual Neuroscience Paper presented at the 84th Annual Meeting of the American Philosophical Association (APA): Pacific Division, San Francisco, USA.
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2009, July). Mechanism, computation, and explanation in cognitive neuroscience. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB), Brisbane.
  • Kaplan, D.M. (2009, July). On deciding the boundaries of cognition and perception. Paper presented at the Metaphysics of Science Conference, Melbourne.

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