Category-specificity in the human medial temporal lobe cortex

Hippocampus. 2009 Mar;19(3):308-19. doi: 10.1002/hipo.20515.


The medial temporal lobe cortex (MTLC) occupies a pivotal position at the interface between neocortical association areas and the hippocampus. It has been suggested that the MTLC contains functionally distinct regions, with perirhinal cortex (PRc) preferentially supporting object processing and posterior parahippocampal cortex (PHc) preferentially supporting encoding of spatial information. Measuring differential BOLD responsiveness to objects, scenes, and other stimulus categories, we find a double dissociation between an anterior PRc response to objects and a posterior PHc response to scene stimuli. Furthermore, an anatomical ROI based approach was undertaken in an effort to understand the response profile underlying this double dissociation. We did not see any evidence for a sharp border between putatively distinct scene-preferential and object-preferential MTLC regions. Instead, scene-preferential responsiveness was noted to drop off in a graded, linear fashion in successively anterior MTLC regions until object-preferential responsiveness emerged in anterior PRc, although objects produced above baseline responses across the anterior-posterior extent of the parahippocampal gyrus. Other stimulus categories, such as faces and words, led to above baseline activation in either a few confined regions (faces) or none at all (words). Thus, what differentiated regions along the parahippocampal gryus was the relative response to objects and scenes, not simply above baseline responses to either category. This pattern raises the possibility that posterior PHc, and anterior PRc are situated at the ends of a single organizational continuum supported by the entire length of MTLC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*