Neural mechanisms of visual categorization: insights from neurophysiology

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(2):311-29. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.07.011. Epub 2007 Aug 15.


How does the brain recognize the meaning of sensory stimuli? Through experience, we easily learn to group stimuli into meaningful categories such as "chair", "table" and "vehicle". Although much is known about how the brain processes and encodes basic visual features (e.g. color, orientation, and motion direction), much less is known about how the brain learns and represents the behavioral relevance, or category, of stimuli. This article will review a number of recent experiments which suggest that neuronal activity in primate prefrontal, temporal and parietal cortical areas likely plays significant, though complementary, roles in visual categorization and category learning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Concept Formation*
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*