Document Detail

A cortical representation of the local visual environment.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  9560155     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Medial temporal brain regions such as the hippocampal formation and parahippocampal cortex have been generally implicated in navigation and visual memory. However, the specific function of each of these regions is not yet clear. Here we present evidence that a particular area within human parahippocampal cortex is involved in a critical component of navigation: perceiving the local visual environment. This region, which we name the 'parahippocampal place area' (PPA), responds selectively and automatically in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to passively viewed scenes, but only weakly to single objects and not at all to faces. The critical factor for this activation appears to be the presence in the stimulus of information about the layout of local space. The response in the PPA to scenes with spatial layout but no discrete objects (empty rooms) is as strong as the response to complex meaningful scenes containing multiple objects (the same rooms furnished) and over twice as strong as the response to arrays of multiple objects without three-dimensional spatial context (the furniture from these rooms on a blank background). This response is reduced if the surfaces in the scene are rearranged so that they no longer define a coherent space. We propose that the PPA represents places by encoding the geometry of the local environment.
R Epstein; N Kanwisher
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Nature     Volume:  392     ISSN:  0028-0836     ISO Abbreviation:  Nature     Publication Date:  1998 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1998-05-04     Completed Date:  1998-05-04     Revised Date:  2006-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0410462     Medline TA:  Nature     Country:  ENGLAND    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  598-601     Citation Subset:  IM; S    
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Brain Mapping*
Hippocampus / physiology*
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Photic Stimulation
Space Perception / physiology
Visual Perception / physiology*

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