Multivoxel pattern analysis reveals 3D place information in the human hippocampus

Kim, M., Jeffery, K. J. and Maguire, E. A. (2017) Multivoxel pattern analysis reveals 3D place information in the human hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience, 37(16), pp. 4270-4279. (doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2703-16.2017) (PMID:28320847) (PMCID:PMC5413175)

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The spatial world is three dimensional (3D) and humans and other animals move both horizontally and vertically within it. Extant neuroscientific studies have typically investigated spatial navigation on a horizontal 2D plane, leaving much unknown about how 3D spatial information is represented in the brain. Specifically, horizontal and vertical information may be encoded in the same or different neural structures with equal or unequal sensitivity. Here, we investigated these possibilities using fMRI while participants were passively moved within a 3D lattice structure as if riding a rollercoaster. Multivoxel pattern analysis was used to test for the existence of information relating to where and in which direction participants were heading in this virtual environment. Behaviorally, participants had similarly accurate memory for vertical and horizontal locations and the right anterior hippocampus (HC) expressed place information that was sensitive to changes along both horizontal and vertical axes. This is suggestive of isotropic 3D place encoding. In contrast, participants indicated their heading direction faster and more accurately when they were heading in a tilted-up or tilted-down direction. This direction information was expressed in the right retrosplenial cortex and posterior HC and was only sensitive to vertical pitch, which could reflect the importance of the vertical (gravity) axis as a reference frame. Overall, our findings extend previous knowledge of how we represent the spatial world and navigate within it by taking into account the important third dimension.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Jeffery, Professor Kate
Authors: Kim, M., Jeffery, K. J., and Maguire, E. A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Journal of Neuroscience
Publisher:The Society for Neuroscience
ISSN (Online):1529-2401
Published Online:20 March 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Kim et al.
First Published:First published in Journal of Neuroscience 37(16): 4270-4279
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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