Neuroimaging studies have revealed two separate classes of category-selective regions specialized in optic flow (egomotion-compatible) processing and in scene/place perception. Despite the importance of both optic flow and scene/place recognition to estimate changes in position and orientation within the environment during self-motion, the possible functional link between egomotion- and scene-selective regions has not yet been established. Here we reanalyzed functional magnetic resonance images from a large sample of participants performing two well-known “localizer” fMRI experiments, consisting in passive viewing of navigationally relevant stimuli such as buildings and places (scene/place stimulus) and coherently moving fields of dots simulating the visual stimulation during self-motion (flow fields). After interrogating the egomotion-selective areas with respect to the scene/place stimulus and the scene-selective areas with respect to flow fields, we found that the egomotion-selective areas V6+ and pIPS/V3A responded bilaterally more to scenes/places compared to faces, and all the scene-selective areas (parahippocampal place area or PPA, retrosplenial complex or RSC, and occipital place area or OPA) responded more to egomotion-compatible optic flow compared to random motion. The conjunction analysis between scene/place and flow field stimuli revealed that the most important focus of common activation was found in the dorsolateral parieto-occipital cortex, spanning the scene-selective OPA and the egomotion-selective pIPS/V3A. Individual inspection of the relative locations of these two regions revealed a partial overlap and a similar response profile to an independent low-level visual motion stimulus, suggesting that OPA and pIPS/V3A may be part of a unique motion-selective complex specialized in encoding both egomotion- and scene-relevant information, likely for the control of navigation in a structured environment.
- Brain mapping
- Functional magnetic resonance
- Optic flow
- Scene perception
ASJC Scopus subject areas