A Modality-Independent Network Underlies the Retrieval of Large-Scale Spatial Environments in the Human Brain

Derek J. Huffman, Arne D. Ekstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

In humans, the extent to which body-based cues, such as vestibular, somatosensory, and motoric cues, are necessary for normal expression of spatial representations remains unclear. Recent breakthroughs in immersive virtual reality technology allowed us to test how body-based cues influence spatial representations of large-scale environments in humans. Specifically, we manipulated the availability of body-based cues during navigation using an omnidirectional treadmill and a head-mounted display, investigating brain differences in levels of activation (i.e., univariate analysis), patterns of activity (i.e., multivariate pattern analysis), and putative network interactions between spatial retrieval tasks using fMRI. Our behavioral and neuroimaging results support the idea that there is a core, modality-independent network supporting spatial memory retrieval in the human brain. Thus, for well-learned spatial environments, at least in humans, primarily visual input may be sufficient for expression of complex representations of spatial environments. Video Is movement of our body in space required for normal learning during navigation? By comparing navigation in virtual reality under different levels of immersion, Huffman and Ekstrom found that body movements are not necessary and that visual input is sufficient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-622.e7
JournalNeuron
Volume104
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 6 2019

Keywords

  • body-based cues
  • fMRI
  • hippocampus
  • immersive virtual reality
  • memory
  • network
  • parahippocampal cortex
  • retrosplenial cortex
  • spatial cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience

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