Occipital place area represents the local elements of scenes Open Access
Kamps, Frederik Strand (2015)
Neuroimaging studies have identified three scene-selective regions in human cortex: parahippocampal place area (PPA), retrosplenial complex (RSC), and occipital place area (OPA). However, the particular scene information represented in each region is unknown, especially for the least-studied OPA. Here we investigate how OPA represents two critical sources of scene information: i) spatial boundary (e.g., the external shape of the space) and ii) content (i.e., the internal elements such as furniture). To test spatial boundary representation, we examined responses in OPA to images of intact rooms and these same rooms in which the walls, floors, and ceilings were fractured and rearranged, disrupting spatial boundary. OPA responded similarly to intact and fractured rooms, suggesting OPA does not represent spatial boundary per se, but rather the local elements that compose the space themselves, independent of their spatial arrangement. By contrast, PPA and RSC were sensitive to spatial boundary, responding more to intact than fractured rooms. Next, to test scene content representation, we examined responses in OPA to images of furniture and non-furniture objects. We found OPA (and PPA) responded selectively to furniture. However, while both OPA and PPA represent scene content, they do so differently; in another test, only OPA was sensitive to the number of pieces of furniture, suggesting OPA represents the local elements of scene content, responding more when more such elements were presented. Taken together, these findings reveal that OPA analyzes local scene elements - both in spatial boundary and scene content representation - while PPA and RSC represent global scene properties.
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