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Fall 2011 GRASP Seminar – Russell Epstein, University of Pennsylvania, “From Scenes to Cognitive Maps: Spatial Navigation Systems in the Human Brain”

September 23, 2011 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Abstract: Spatial
navigation is the ability to get from point A to point B in large-scale space.
Humans and animals use a variety of strategies to solve this problem. One such
strategy is landmark-based wayfinding, which is the use of fixed landmarks to
determine one’s location and orientation in the world. Functional resonance
magnetic imaging (fMRI) studies have identified a network of brain regions
involved in landmark-based wayfinding, including parahippocampal cortex,
retrosplenial cortex, and the medial temporal lobe (entorhinal cortex and hippocampus).  However, the distinct computational functions
supported by each component of this network are still unknown. One approach to
this problem is to identify the representational distinctions made within each
brain region. I will discuss recent work that uses advanced neuroimaging techniques
to identify neural codes that support the coding of landmarks and locations
within a familiar campus environment. 
Results from these experiments suggest that
parahippocampal and retrosplenial cortices encode information that allows
individual scenes and landmarks to be distinguished.  The medial temporal lobe, on the other hand,
appears to encode a map-like representation of spatial coordinates that allows
distances between locations to be calculated.


- Learn More

Russell Epstein is Associate Professor of Psychology at Penn. He
is a member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, the Institute for
Neurological Sciences, and the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science. He
received his PhD from Harvard in Computer Vision and did postdoctoral work in
cognitive neuroscience at MIT and Cambridge University before joining the Penn
faculty in 2002. His research focuses on the neural systems mediating visual
scene recognition and spatial navigation in humans.


September 23, 2011
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
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