The medial occipital longitudinal tract supports early stage encoding of visuospatial information

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Visuospatial learning depends on the parahippocampal place area (PPA), a functionally heterogenous area which current visuospatial processing models place downstream from parietal cortex and only from area V4 of early visual cortex (EVC). However, evidence for anatomical connections between the PPA and other EVC areas is inconsistent, and these connections are not discussed in current models. Through a data-driven analysis based on diffusion MRI tractography, we present evidence that the PPA sits at the confluence of two white matter systems. The first conveys information from the retrosplenial complex to the anterior PPA and runs within the cingulum bundle. The second system connects all peripheral EVC areas to the posterior PPA and corresponds to the medial occipital longitudinal tract (MOLT), a white matter pathway that is distinct from the cingulum and that we describe here in detail. Based on further functional connectivity analysis and meta-analytic data, we propose that the MOLT supports early stage encoding of visuospatial information by allowing direct reciprocal exchange between the PPA and EVC. Our findings may improve symptom interpretation in stroke and tumour patients with damage to the medial occipito-temporal region and call for revisiting current visuospatial processing models.
Original languageEnglish
Article number318
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Early online date5 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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