A comparison of the neural correlates that underlie rule-based and information-integration category learning
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Human Brain Mapping
Reason for embargo
The influential Competition between Verbal and Implicit Systems (COVIS) model proposes that category learning is driven by two competing neural systems – an explicit, verbal, system, and a procedural-based, implicit, system. In the current fMRI study, participants learned either a conjunctive, rule-based, category structure that is believed to engage the explicit system, or an information-integration category structure that is thought to preferentially recruit the implicit system. The rule-based and information-integration category structures were matched for participant error rate, the number of relevant stimulus dimensions and category separation. Under these conditions, considerable overlap in brain activation, including the prefrontal cortex, basal ganglia, and the hippocampus, was found between the rule-based and information-integration category structures. Contrary to the predictions of COVIS, the medial temporal lobes and in particular the hippocampus, key regions for explicit memory, were found to be more active in the information-integration condition than in the rule-based condition. No regions were more activated in rule-based than information-integration category learning. The implications of these results for theories of category learning are discussed.
The support of a South West Doctoral Training Centre (SWDTC) Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Studentship Award (ES/J50015X/1) to the first author is appreciatively acknowledged. We also thank Todd Maddox for supplying the stimuli used in this study and Greg Ashby for his comments on this work. The participation of University of Exeter student volunteers is also greatly appreciated.