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Scene processing and the human hippocampus

Zeidman, PS; (2014) Scene processing and the human hippocampus. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

The hippocampus is one of the most extensively studied structures of the brain, and yet its diverse set of cognitive functions is still being identified. It is particularly associated with episodic memory in humans and spatial processing in animals, but more recently it has also been implicated in processes beyond memory, including imagination of fictitious and future experiences and even visual perception. The relationship between these cognitive functions, and the underlying involvement of the hippocampus, is not well understood. In this dissertation, I draw upon and extend the hypothesis that the feature common to episodic memory, imagination and visual perception, which necessitates them all to engage the hippocampus, is scene construction – the creation of internal representations of spatially coherent scenes. In a series of experiments, I improved our understanding of scene construction by directly comparing the imagination of scenes (the hippocampus being driven endogenously) against scene perception (being driven by visual stimuli), and further by comparing imagination against memory recall, using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Two experiments had the added advantage of using high-resolution structural MRI (0.5mm3) and fMRI (1.5mm3), for the first time making inferences about scene processing at the level of the sub-units of the hippocampus, termed the hippocampal subfields. Furthermore, by capitalising on recent developments in connectivity analysis (Generalized Psychophysiological Interactions and Stochastic Dynamic Causal Modelling), I examined the interactions of the hippocampus with other brain regions, and inferred the flow of information between the hippocampal subfields using fMRI. Together, my findings provide new insights into the relationship between scene perception, imagination and memory, and develop our understanding of the heterogeneous functional anatomy of the hippocampus. This has important implications for understanding why patients with hippocampal lesions may lose their ability to construct scenes in their imagination and recall episodes from their past.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Scene processing and the human hippocampus
Language: English
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: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1426971
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