The brain of the beholder: honouring individual representational idiosyncrasies

Ian Charest, Nikolaus Kriegeskorte

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In the early days of neuroimaging, brain function was investigated by averaging across voxels within a region, stimuli within a category, and individuals within a group. These three forms of averaging discard important neuroscientific information. Recent studies have explored analyses that combine the evidence in better-motivated ways. Multivariate pattern analyses enable researchers to reveal representations in distributed population codes, honouring the unique information contributed by different voxels (or neurons). Condition-rich designs more richly sample the stimulus space and can treat each stimulus as a unique entity. Finally, each individual's brain is unique and recent studies have found ways to model and analyse the interindividual representational variability. Here we review our field's journey towards more sophisticated analyses that honour these important idiosyncrasies of brain representations. We describe an emerging framework for investigating individually unique pattern representations of particular stimuli in the brain. The framework models stimuli, responses and individuals multivariately and relates representations by means of representational dissimilarity matrices. Important components are computational models and multivariate descriptions of brain and behavioural responses. These recent developments promise a new paradigm for studying the individually unique brain at unprecedented levels of representational detail.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-379
Number of pages13
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2015


  • Object representations
  • Individual differences
  • fMRI
  • Representational similarity analyses


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