Empirical and theoretical studies suggest that human knowledge is partly based on innate concepts that are experience-independent. We can, therefore, consider concepts underlying our knowledge as being broadly divided into inherited and acquired ones. Using fMRI, we studied the brain reaction in 20 subjects to violation of face, space (inherited), and artifact (acquired) concepts by presenting them with deformed faces, impossible figures (i.e., impossible chairs), and deformed planes, respectively, as well as their normal counterparts. Violation of the inherited concepts of face and space led to significant activation in frontoparietal cortex, whereas artifacts did not, thus distinguishing neurologically between the two categories. Participants were further exposed to these deformities daily for 1 month to test the supposition that inherited concepts are not modifiable, hence that prolonged exposure would not change the brain circuits that are engaged when viewing them. Consistent with this supposition, our results showed no significant change in activation for both categories, suggesting that such concepts are stable at the neural level at least within a time frame of 1 month. Finally, we investigated the regions of the brain that are critical for object representation. Our results show distinct and overlapping areas in the ventral visual cortex for all three categories, with faces activating the ventral visual cortex inferiorly, especially centered on right fusiform gyrus, and chairs and planes activating more diffuse regions, overlapping with the superior part of face region and mainly located in middle occipital cortex and parietal areas.

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