Granger causal connectivity dissociates navigation networks that subserve allocentric and egocentric path integration

Brain Res. 2018 Jan 15;1679:91-100. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2017.11.016. Epub 2017 Nov 21.


Studies on spatial navigation demonstrate a significant role of the retrosplenial complex (RSC) in the transformation of egocentric and allocentric information into complementary spatial reference frames (SRFs). The tight anatomical connections of the RSC with a wide range of other cortical regions processing spatial information support its vital role within the human navigation network. To better understand how different areas of the navigational network interact, we investigated the dynamic causal interactions of brain regions involved in solving a virtual navigation task. EEG signals were decomposed by independent component analysis (ICA) and subsequently examined for information flow between clusters of independent components (ICs) using direct short-time directed transfer function (sdDTF). The results revealed information flow between the anterior cingulate cortex and the left prefrontal cortex in the theta (4-7 Hz) frequency band and between the prefrontal, motor, parietal, and occipital cortices as well as the RSC in the alpha (8-13 Hz) frequency band. When participants prefered to use distinct reference frames (egocentric vs. allocentric) during navigation was considered, a dominant occipito-parieto-RSC network was identified in allocentric navigators. These results are in line with the assumption that the RSC, parietal, and occipital cortices are involved in transforming egocentric visual-spatial information into an allocentric reference frame. Moreover, the RSC demonstrated the strongest causal flow during changes in orientation, suggesting that this structure directly provides information on heading changes in humans.

Keywords: Allocentric; Brain connectivity; Egocentric; Retrosplenial complex; Spatial navigation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Causality
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Spatial Navigation / physiology*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Time Factors