Functional Organization of the Parahippocampal Cortex: Dissociable Roles for Context Representations and the Perception of Visual Scenes

Oliver Baumann, Jason B Mattingley

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15 Citations (Scopus)
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The human parahippocampal cortex has been ascribed central roles in both visuospatial and mnemonic processes. More specifically, evidence suggests that the parahippocampal cortex subserves both the perceptual analysis of scene layouts as well as the retrieval of associative contextual memories. It remains unclear, however, whether these two functional roles can be dissociated within the parahippocampal cortex anatomically. Here, we provide evidence for a dissociation between neural activation patterns associated with visuospatial analysis of scenes and contextual mnemonic processing along the parahippocampal longitudinal axis. We used fMRI to measure parahippocampal responses while participants engaged in a task that required them to judge the contextual relatedness of scene and object pairs, which were presented either as words or pictures. Results from combined factorial and conjunction analyses indicated that the posterior section of parahippocampal cortex is driven predominantly by judgments associated with pictorial scene analysis, whereas its anterior section is more active during contextual judgments regardless of stimulus category (scenes vs objects) or modality (word vs picture). Activation maxima associated with visuospatial and mnemonic processes were spatially segregated, providing support for the existence of functionally distinct subregions along the parahippocampal longitudinal axis and suggesting that, in humans, the parahippocampal cortex serves as a functional interface between perception and memory systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2536-2542
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


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