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The Mental Functioning Ontology (MF) is an ontology for mental functioning, including mental processes such as cognition and traits such as intelligence. There is a module (MFO-MD) which covers mental disorders, within which the IDs are reused from the Disease Ontology as far as is possible. It is developed in the context of the Ontology for General Medical Science (OGMS) and the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO). The project is being developed collaboratively by a community of users. To discuss any aspect of the ontology, send a message to

The project is being developed following best practices as set out by the OBO Foundry. The ontology has been partially aligned with the related projects Cognitive Atlas and the Cognitive Paradigm Ontology.

The latest version of the ontology is available at and is best viewed using Protege version 4.2 or above.

Persons involved

The primary maintainer of the ontology is Janna Hastings (University College London, UK).

Other current and historical contributors include: Barry Smith, (Buffalo, USA), Neil Otte (Buffalo, USA), Werner Ceusters (Buffalo, USA), Kevin Mulligan (Geneva, Switzerland), Mark Jensen (Buffalo, USA), Jeanette Chacón (Cambridge, UK) and Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen (Toronto, Canada).


Representing mental functioning: Ontologies for mental health and disease. J Hastings, W Ceusters, M Jensen, K Mulligan, B Smith. ICBO 2012: 3rd International Conference on Biomedical Ontology.

Interdisciplinary perspectives on the development, integration, and application of cognitive ontologies. Janna Hastings, Gwen A Frishkoff, Barry Smith, Mark Jensen, Russell A Poldrack, Jane Lomax, Anita Bandrowski, Fahim Imam, Jessica A Turner, Maryann E Martone. Frontiers in neuroinformatics (8).

Ontologies for human behavior analysis and their application to clinical data. Janna Hastings, Stefan Schulz. Int. Rev. Neurobiol (103) Pages 89-107.

The mental functioning ontology is based on the foundations laid out in the paper Foundations for a realist ontology of mental disease by Werner Ceusters and Barry Smith, Journal of Biomedical Semantics.

Related Projects

The Emotion Ontology (MFO-EM) is a fully contained domain specialisation of the Mental Functioning Ontology for the domain of emotions and affective phenomena.


Ontology for all aspects of human mental functioning





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