A new study in monkeys identifies the area of the brain that appears most active in categorizing information.
We tend to think in categories. And now scientists have begun to pinpoint just where this kind of categorizing -- into buckets like animals, cars and food groups -- takes place in the brain.
Researchers have discovered that the posterior parietal cortex, a region of the brain thought to be involved in basic visual processing, is very strongly involved in the complex task of categorizing specific signals.
'The number of decisions we make per minute is remarkable. Understanding that process from a basic physiological perspective is bound to lead to ways to improve the process and to help people make better decisions.'
- For a Better Decision, Call on Your Subconscious
- Decision-Making Suffers When We Are Sleep Deprived
- How to Make Resolutions and Keep Them
The study demonstrated that monkeys use the posterior parietal cortex in a computerized task in which they determined the category of a moving visual stimulus. In this task, the posterior parietal cortex was used a lot more than the prefrontal cortex - the latter of which is typically associated with higher level cognitive functions.
The investigators trained monkeys to perform a relatively simple game in which they categorized dots moving in different directions into one of two categories. The monkeys were able to either hold on to or release a joystick while they processed in their brains whether the dots belonged in the same or different category.