Representational geometry: integrating cognition, computation, and the brain

Trends Cogn Sci. 2013 Aug;17(8):401-12. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2013.06.007. Epub 2013 Jul 19.


The cognitive concept of representation plays a key role in theories of brain information processing. However, linking neuronal activity to representational content and cognitive theory remains challenging. Recent studies have characterized the representational geometry of neural population codes by means of representational distance matrices, enabling researchers to compare representations across stages of processing and to test cognitive and computational theories. Representational geometry provides a useful intermediate level of description, capturing both the information represented in a neuronal population code and the format in which it is represented. We review recent insights gained with this approach in perception, memory, cognition, and action. Analyses of representational geometry can compare representations between models and the brain, and promise to explain brain computation as transformation of representational similarity structure.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Mathematics*
  • Models, Neurological*