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Retrosplenial cortex indexes stability beyond the spatial domain

Auger, SD; Maguire, EA; (2018) Retrosplenial cortex indexes stability beyond the spatial domain. Journal of Neuroscience 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2602-17.2017. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Retrosplenial cortex (RSC) is highly responsive to landmarks in the environment which remain fixed in a permanent location, and this has been linked with its known involvement in scene and spatial processing. However, it is unclear if RSC representations of permanence are a purely spatial phenomenon or whether they extend into behavioural and conceptual domains. To test this, during functional MRI (fMRI) scanning we had people (males and females) read three different types of sentence which described either something permanent or transient. The first two sentence types were imageable, with a focus either on a spatial landmark or on an action. The third type of sentence involved non-imageable abstract concepts. We found that, in addition to being more active for sentences describing landmarks with a permanent location in space, RSC was also significantly engaged by sentences describing stable and consistent behaviours or actions, as long as they were rooted within a concrete imageable setting. RSC was not responsive to abstract concepts, even those that embodied the notion of stability. Similarly, it was not engaged by imageable sentences with transient contents. In contrast, parahippocampal cortex was more engaged by imageable sentences describing landmarks, while the hippocampus was active for all imageable sentences. In addition, for imageable sentences describing permanence, there was bidirectional functional coupling between RSC and these medial temporal lobe structures. It appears, therefore, that RSC-mediated permanence representations could be helpful for more than spatially mapping environments, and may also provide information about the reliability of events occurring within them.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTThe retrosplenial cortex (RSC) is known to process information about landmarks in the environment that have a fixed, permanent location. Here we tested whether this permanence response was apparent beyond the spatial domain, which could have implications for understanding the role of the RSC more widely across cognition. We found that the RSC was engaged not only by permanent landmarks, but also by stable and consistent actions. It was not responsive to transient landmarks or actions, or to abstract concepts, even those that embodied the notion of stability. We conclude that the RSC might do more than help to map spatial environments, by possibly also providing information about the reliability of events occurring within them.

Type: Article
Title: Retrosplenial cortex indexes stability beyond the spatial domain
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2602-17.2017
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2602-17.2017
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.
Keywords: Retrosplenial; landmarks; actions; concepts; imageable; scenes; fMRI
UCL classification: UCL
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: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10041521
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