The representation of object concepts in the brain

Annu Rev Psychol. 2007:58:25-45. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.57.102904.190143.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Anomia / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Concept Formation / physiology*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Motion Perception / physiology
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Semantics
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Verbal Learning / physiology