Cortical areas supporting category learning identified using functional MRI

P. J. Reber*, C. E L Stark, L. R. Squire

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


Functional MRI was used to identify cortical areas involved in category learning by prototype abstraction. Participants studied 40 dot patterns that were distortions of an underlying prototype and then, while functional MRI data were collected, made yes-no category judgments about new dot patterns. The dot patterns alternated between ones mostly requiring a 'yes' response and ones mostly requiring a 'no' response. Activity in four cortical areas correlated with the category judgment task. A sizeable posterior occipital cortical area (BA 17/18) exhibited significantly less activity during processing of the categorical patterns were observed in left and right anterior frontal cortex (BA 10) and right inferior lateral frontal cortex (BA 44/47). Decreases in activation of visual cortex when categorical patterns could be processed in a more rapid or less effortful manner after the prototype had been learned. Increases in prefrontal activity associated with processing categorical patterns could be related to any of several processes involved in retrieving information about the learned exemplars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)747-750
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 20 1998


  • Frontal cortex
  • Nondeclarative memory
  • Occipital cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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