Communication through visual symbols is a key aspect of human culture. However, to what extent can people distinguish between human-origin and artificial symbols, and the neuronal mechanisms underlying this process are not clear. Using fMRI we contrasted brain activity during presentation of human-created abstract shapes and random-algorithm created shapes, both sharing similar low level features. We found that participants correctly identified most shapes as human or random. The lateral occipital complex (LOC) was the main brain region showing preference to human-made shapes, independently of task. Furthermore, LOC activity was parametrically correlated to beauty and familiarity scores of the shapes (rated following the scan). Finally, a model classifier based only on LOC activity showed human level accuracy at discriminating between human-made and randomly-made shapes. Our results highlight the sensitivity of the human brain to social and cultural cues, and point to high-order object areas as central nodes underlying this capacity.