On Findings of Category and Other Concept Cells in the Brain: Some Theoretical Perspectives on Mental Representation

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4 Scopus citations


There is substantial neurophysiological evidence from decades of single-cell studies that category and other concept cells exist in both human and animal brains. This indicates that the brain can generalize and create abstract concepts and encode and represent such abstractions using single cells. These single-cell findings cannot be accounted for and explained by the theory of distributed representation and population coding, the dominant theory in the brain sciences. In light of these findings, this paper reexamines the two contending mental representational schemes, localist and distributed, on the basis of computational efficiency, the ability to simultaneously process and activate many different concepts, and the structure for semantic cognition. The evidence for category and concept cells favors localist representation in the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9307
Pages (from-to)279-284
Number of pages6
JournalCognitive Computation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 26 2015



  • Category cells
  • Concept cells
  • Distributed representation
  • Localist representation
  • Semantic cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition

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