Contemporary theories of the medial temporal lobe (MTL) suggest that there are functional differences between the MTL cortex and the hippocampus. High-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging and multivariate pattern analysis were utilized to study whether MTL subregions could classify categories of images, with the hypothesis that the hippocampus would be less representationally categorical than the MTL cortex. Results revealed significant classification accuracy for faces versus objects and faces versus scenes in MTL cortical regions-parahippocampal cortex (PHC) and perirhinal cortex (PRC)-with little evidence for category discrimination in the hippocampus. MTL cortical regions showed significantly greater classification accuracy than the hippocampus. The hippocampus showed significant classification accuracy for images compared to a nonmnemonic baseline task, suggesting that it responded to the images. Classification accuracy in a region of interest encompassing retrosplenial cortex (RSC) and the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) posterior to RSC, showed a similar pattern of results to PHC, supporting the hypothesis that these regions are functionally related. The results suggest that PHC, PRC, and RSC/PCC are representationally categorical and the hippocampus is more representationally agnostic, which is concordant with the hypothesis of the role of the hippocampus in pattern separation.
Keywords: MVPA; fMRI; parahippocampal cortex; pattern separation; perirhinal cortex.
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