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Neuron. 2003 Mar 6;37(5):865-76.

Viewpoint-specific scene representations in human parahippocampal cortex.

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Department of Psychology and Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, 3815 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The "parahippocampal place area" (PPA) responds more strongly in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scenes than to faces, objects, or other visual stimuli. We used an event-related fMRI adaptation paradigm to test whether the PPA represents scenes in a viewpoint-specific or viewpoint-invariant manner. The PPA responded just as strongly to viewpoint changes that preserved intrinsic scene geometry as it did to complete scene changes, but less strongly to object changes within the scene. In contrast, lateral occipital cortex responded more strongly to object changes than to spatial changes. These results demonstrate that scene processing in the PPA is viewpoint specific and suggest that the PPA represents the relationship between the observer and the surfaces that define local space.

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