Decades of studies have identified a list of
brain areas specific to a certain taxonomic category. However, neural
representations incorporating both taxonomic and thematic knowledge are not
well understood. In this study, we applied representational similarity analyses
to investigate the underlying organizing principles of high-resolution neural
activation patterns induced by different categories and themes at different
cortical levels. In contrast to taxonomic representation, we did not find
specific neural substrates representing thematic knowledge. Instead, neural
activation patterns specific to thematic information emerged only when
taxonomic differences were controlled for. These results suggest that the brain
is dominated by taxonomic knowledge and then modified by thematic knowledge.
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