Different neural systems for recognizing plants, animals, and artifacts

Ryuta Kawashima, Giyoo Hatano, Kyoko Oizumi, Motoaki Sugiura, Hiroshi Fukuda, Kengo Itoh, Takashi Kato, Akinori Nakamura, Kentaro Hatano, Shozo Kojima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to investigate functional organization in the human brain involved in the representation of knowledge regarding plants. We measured the brain activity of eight male volunteers during the recognition of visual stimuli representing plants, animals and artifacts, using positron emission tomography. The participants were presented with and were required to name silently two different images each of 15 entities belonging to three ontological categories, and 30 series of four to six digits. Marked increases in regional cerebral blood flow were found in the hippocampus and the parahippocampal areas bilaterally and the right lateral occipital cortex during the silent naming of all three categories, compared with that during the silent reading of digits. The right lateral occipital cortex was specifically activated in association with the naming of plants, and the right fusiform cortex was specifically activated in association with the naming of animals. In addition, the right temporo-occipital cortex was activated only during animals and plants, not artifacts. Our results indicate that there were a few characteristic activations for the different categories, and that entities belonging to the different categories are not necessarily represented in different locations of the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-317
Number of pages5
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Occipital cortex
  • PET
  • Plants
  • Silent naming


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