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Annu Rev Psychol. 2007;58:25-45.

The representation of object concepts in the brain.

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  • 1Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1366, USA.


Evidence from functional neuroimaging of the human brain indicates that information about salient properties of an object-such as what it looks like, how it moves, and how it is used-is stored in sensory and motor systems active when that information was acquired. As a result, object concepts belonging to different categories like animals and tools are represented in partially distinct, sensory- and motor property-based neural networks. This suggests that object concepts are not explicitly represented, but rather emerge from weighted activity within property-based brain regions. However, some property-based regions seem to show a categorical organization, thus providing evidence consistent with category-based, domain-specific formulations as well.

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