Mar 30, 2016

The Occipital Place Area Is Causally Involved in Representing Environmental Boundaries during Navigation

Current Biology : CB
Joshua B JulianRussell A Epstein

Abstract

Thirty years of research suggests that environmental boundaries-e.g., the walls of an experimental chamber or room-exert powerful influence on navigational behavior, often to the exclusion of other cues [1-9]. Consistent with this behavioral work, neurons in brain structures that instantiate spatial memory often exhibit firing fields that are strongly controlled by environmental boundaries [10-15]. Despite the clear importance of environmental boundaries for spatial coding, however, a brain region that mediates the perception of boundary information has not yet been identified. We hypothesized that the occipital place area (OPA), a scene-selective region located near the transverse occipital sulcus [16], might provide this perceptual source by extracting boundary information from visual scenes during navigation. To test this idea, we used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to interrupt processing in the OPA while subjects performed a virtual-reality memory task that required them to learn the spatial locations of test objects that were either fixed in place relative to the boundary of the environment or moved in tandem with a landmark object. Consistent with our prediction, we found that TMS to the right OPA impaired spati...Continue Reading

  • References49
  • Citations12

References

  • References49
  • Citations12

Citations

Mentioned in this Paper

Spatial Memory
Neuro-Oncological Ventral Antigen 2
Research
Mediator of RNA Polymerase II Transcription Subunit 12
Exertion
Occipital Lobe
Virtual Reality, Educational
TRIP6 gene
Neurons
Spatial Distribution

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