Language neuroscience currently relies on two major experimental paradigms: controlled experiments using carefully hand-designed stimuli, and natural stimulus experiments. These approaches have complementary advantages which allow them to address distinct aspects of the neurobiology of language, but each approach also comes with drawbacks. Here we discuss a third paradigm—in silico experimentation using deep learning-based encoding models—that has been enabled by recent advances in cognitive computational neuroscience. This paradigm promises to combine the interpretability of controlled experiments with the generalizability and broad scope of natural stimulus experiments. We show four examples of simulating language neuroscience experiments in silico and then discuss both the advantages and caveats of this approach.

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Author notes

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Handling Editor: Alessandro Lopopolo

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