Brain mechanisms of concept learning

Dagmar Zeithamova, Michael L. Mack, Kurt Braunlich, Tyler Davis, Carol A. Seger, Marlieke T.R.Van Kesteren, Andreas Wutz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Concept learning, the ability to extract commonalities and highlight distinctions across a set of related experiences to build organized knowledge, is a critical aspect of cognition. Previous reviews have focused on concept learning research as a means for dissociating multiple brain systems. The current review surveys recent work that uses novel analytical approaches, including the combination of computational modeling with neural measures, focused on testing theories of specific computations and representations that contribute to concept learning. We discuss in detail the roles of the hippocampus, ventromedial prefrontal, lateral prefrontal, and lateral parietal cortices, and how their engagement is modulated by the coherence of experiences and the current learning goals. We conclude that the interaction of multiple brain systems relatingto learning, memory, attention, perception, and reward support aflexible concept-learning mechanism that adapts to a range of category structures and incorporates motivational states, making concept learning a fruitful research domain for understanding the neural dynamics underlying complex behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8259-8266
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 16 2019


  • Categorization
  • Computational Modeling
  • Fmri
  • Hippocampus
  • Parietal Cortex
  • Prefrontal Cortex


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