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J Neurosci. 2017 Mar 22;37(12):3150-3159. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3225-16.2017. Epub 2017 Feb 17.

Ultra-High-Field fMRI Reveals a Role for the Subiculum in Scene Perceptual Discrimination.

Author information

Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF24 4HQ, United Kingdom,
Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DU, United Kingdom, and.
Section on Functional Imaging Methods, NIMH, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1148.
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF24 4HQ, United Kingdom.


Recent "representational" accounts suggest a key role for the hippocampus in complex scene perception. Due to limitations in scanner field strength, however, the functional neuroanatomy of hippocampal-dependent scene perception is unknown. Here, we applied 7 T high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) alongside a perceptual oddity task, modified from nonhuman primate studies. This task requires subjects to discriminate highly similar scenes, faces, or objects from multiple viewpoints, and has revealed selective impairments during scene discrimination following hippocampal lesions. Region-of-interest analyses identified a preferential response in the subiculum subfield of the hippocampus during scene, but not face or object, discriminations. Notably, this effect was in the anteromedial subiculum and was not modulated by whether scenes were subsequently remembered or forgotten. These results highlight the value of ultra-high-field fMRI in generating more refined, anatomically informed, functional accounts of hippocampal contributions to cognition, and a unique role for the human subiculum in discrimination of complex scenes from different viewpoints.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT There is increasing evidence that the human hippocampus supports functions beyond just episodic memory, with human lesion studies suggesting a contribution to the perceptual processing of navigationally relevant, complex scenes. While the hippocampus itself contains several small, functionally distinct subfields, examining the role of these in scene processing has been previously limited by scanner field strength. By applying ultra-high-resolution 7 T fMRI, we delineated the functional contribution of individual hippocampal subfields during a perceptual discrimination task for scenes, faces, and objects. This demonstrated that the discrimination of scenes, relative to faces and objects, recruits the anterior subicular region of the hippocampus, regardless of whether scenes were subsequently remembered or forgotten.


7 T fMRI; episodic memory; hippocampus; medial temporal lobe; perception; scene processing

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