No brain area has a single psychological function

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A note for Lesson no. 2, "Your Brain Is a Network," in Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context from page 37‌‌‌‌‌ is:

...the area is routinely called the visual cortex; however, its neurons routinely carry information about hearing and touch.

Not only does your visual cortex routinely carry information about hearing, but also your auditory cortex carries information about seeing. These are just two examples of the fact that no brain area has a single psychological function.[1] This has been called multi-use or domain-generality. It is also called mixed-selectivity.

For more information, see works by:


  1. Liang, M., A. Mouraux, L. Hu and G.D. Iannetti. 2013. “Primary Sensory Cortices Contain Distinguishable Spatial Patterns of Activity For Each Sense.” Nature Communications 4: 1979.
  2. Anderson, Michael L. 2014. After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
  3. Barrett, Lisa Feldman. 2009. "The Future of Psychology:  Connecting Mind to Brain." Perspectives in Psychological Science 4: 326–339.
  4. Barrett, Lisa Feldman and Ajay B. Satpute. 2013. "Large-Scale Brain Networks In Affective and Social Neuroscience: Towards an Integrative Architecture of the Human Brain." Current Opinion in Neurobiology 23 (3): 361–372.
  5. Fusi, Stefano, Earl K. Miller, and Mattia Rigotti. 2016. "Why Neurons Mix: High Dimensionality for Higher Cognition." Current Opinion in Neurobiology 37: 66-74.
  6. Rigotti, Mattia, Omri Barak, Melissa R. Warden, Xiao-Jing Wang, Nathaniel D. Daw, Earl K. Miller, and Stefano Fusi. 2013. "The Importance of Mixed Selectivity in Complex Cognitive Tasks." Nature 497 (7451): 585-590.
  7. Brincat, Scott L., Markus Siegel, Constantin von Nicolai, and Earl K. Miller. 2018. "Gradual Progression From Sensory To Task-related Processing in Cerebral Cortex." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115 (30): E7202-E7211.
  8. Siegel, Markus, Timothy J. Buschman, and Earl K. Miller. 2015. "Cortical Information Flow During Flexible Sensorimotor Decisions." Science 348 (6241): 1352-1355.