The functional architecture of the ventral temporal cortex and its role in categorization

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2014 Aug;15(8):536-48. doi: 10.1038/nrn3747. Epub 2014 Jun 25.


Visual categorization is thought to occur in the human ventral temporal cortex (VTC), but how this categorization is achieved is still largely unknown. In this Review, we consider the computations and representations that are necessary for categorization and examine how the microanatomical and macroanatomical layout of the VTC might optimize them to achieve rapid and flexible visual categorization. We propose that efficient categorization is achieved by organizing representations in a nested spatial hierarchy in the VTC. This spatial hierarchy serves as a neural infrastructure for the representational hierarchy of visual information in the VTC and thereby enables flexible access to category information at several levels of abstraction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Temporal Lobe / cytology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / cytology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*