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Cognitive neuroscience uses neuroimaging to identify brain systems engaged in specific cognitive tasks. However, linking unequivocally brain systems with cognitive functions is difficult: each task probes only a small number of facets of cognition, while brain systems are often engaged in many tasks. We develop a new approach to generate a functional atlas of cognition, demonstrating brain systems selectively associated with specific cognitive functions. This approach relies upon an ontology that defines specific cognitive functions and the relations between them, along with an analysis scheme tailored to this ontology. Using a database of thirty neuroimaging studies, we show that this approach provides a highly-specific atlas of mental functions, and that it can decode the mental processes engaged in new tasks.