The cognition and neuroscience of relational reasoning

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


There has been a growing interest in understanding the complex cognitive processes that give rise to human reasoning. This review focuses on the cognitive and neural characteristics of relational reasoning and analogy performance. Initially relational reasoning studies that have investigated the neural basis of abstract reasoning with an emphasis on the prefrontal cortex are described. Next studies of analogical reasoning are reviewed with insights from neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies. Additionally, studies of cognitive components in analogical reasoning are described. This review draws together insights from numerous studies and concludes that prefrontal areas exhibit domain independence in relational reasoning, while posterior areas within the temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes show evidence of domain dependence in reasoning. Lastly, future directions in the study of relational reasoning are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-23
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Research
StatePublished - Jan 5 2012


  • Analogical reasoning
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Relational reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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