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Deciding what is possible and impossible following hippocampal damage in humans

McCormick, C; Rosenthal, CR; Miller, TD; Maguire, EA; (2017) Deciding what is possible and impossible following hippocampal damage in humans. Hippocampus , 27 (3) pp. 303-314. 10.1002/hipo.22694. Green open access

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Abstract

There is currently much debate about whether the precise role of the hippocampus in scene processing is predominantly constructive, perceptual or mnemonic. Here, we developed a novel experimental paradigm designed to control for general perceptual and mnemonic demands, thus enabling us to specifically vary the requirement for constructive processing. We tested the ability of patients with selective bilateral hippocampal damage and matched control participants to detect either semantic (e.g., an elephant with butterflies for ears) or constructive (e.g., an endless staircase) violations in realistic images of scenes. Thus, scenes could be semantically or constructively 'possible' or 'impossible'. Importantly, general perceptual and memory requirements were similar for both types of scene. We found that the patients performed comparably to control participants when deciding whether scenes were semantically possible or impossible, but were selectively impaired at judging if scenes were constructively possible or impossible. Post-task debriefing indicated that control participants constructed flexible mental representations of the scenes in order to make constructive judgements, whereas the patients were more constrained and typically focused on specific fragments of the scenes, with little indication of having constructed internal scene models. These results suggest that one contribution the hippocampus makes to scene processing is to construct internal representations of spatially coherent scenes, which may be vital for modelling the world during both perception and memory recall. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Type: Article
Title: Deciding what is possible and impossible following hippocampal damage in humans
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/hipo.22694
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hipo.22694
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Hippocampus Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Amnesia, hippocampus, impossible scenes, scene construction, semantic knowledge
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1534554
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