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Science. 2016 Jun 17;352(6292):1464-1468. doi: 10.1126/science.aaf0941. Epub 2016 Jun 16.

Organizing conceptual knowledge in humans with a gridlike code.

Author information

1
Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, Oxford, OX3 9DU, UK.
2
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, 9 South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3UD, UK.
3
Donders Institute, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
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Contributed equally

Abstract

It has been hypothesized that the brain organizes concepts into a mental map, allowing conceptual relationships to be navigated in a manner similar to that of space. Grid cells use a hexagonally symmetric code to organize spatial representations and are the likely source of a precise hexagonal symmetry in the functional magnetic resonance imaging signal. Humans navigating conceptual two-dimensional knowledge showed the same hexagonal signal in a set of brain regions markedly similar to those activated during spatial navigation. This gridlike signal is consistent across sessions acquired within an hour and more than a week apart. Our findings suggest that global relational codes may be used to organize nonspatial conceptual representations and that these codes may have a hexagonal gridlike pattern when conceptual knowledge is laid out in two continuous dimensions.

PMID:
27313047
PMCID:
PMC5248972
DOI:
10.1126/science.aaf0941
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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