Neural Representations Integrate the Current Field of View with the Remembered 360° Panorama in Scene-Selective Cortex

Curr Biol. 2016 Sep 26;26(18):2463-2468. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.002. Epub 2016 Sep 8.


We experience our visual environment as a seamless, immersive panorama. Yet, each view is discrete and fleeting, separated by expansive eye movements and discontinuous views of our spatial surroundings. How are discrete views of a panoramic environment knit together into a broad, unified memory representation? Regions of the brain's "scene network" are well poised to integrate retinal input and memory [1]: they are visually driven [2, 3] but also densely interconnected with memory structures in the medial temporal lobe [4]. Further, these regions harbor memory signals relevant for navigation [5-8] and adapt across overlapping shifts in scene viewpoint [9, 10]. However, it is unknown whether regions of the scene network support visual memory for the panoramic environment outside of the current field of view and, further, how memory for the surrounding environment influences ongoing perception. Here, we demonstrate that specific regions of the scene network-the retrosplenial complex (RSC) and occipital place area (OPA)-unite discrete views of a 360° panoramic environment, both current and out of sight, in a common representational space. Further, individual scene views prime associated representations of the panoramic environment in behavior, facilitating subsequent perceptual judgments. We propose that this dynamic interplay between memory and perception plays an important role in weaving the fabric of continuous visual experience.

Keywords: navigation; occipital place area (OPA); panoramic memory; parahippocampal place area (PPA); retrosplenial cortex (RSC); scene memory; scene perception; virtual reality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall*
  • Visual Cortex*
  • Visual Perception*
  • Young Adult