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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number318
JournalCommunications Biology
Volume5
Issue number1
Early online date5 Apr 2022
DOIs
Accepted/In press8 Mar 2022
E-pub ahead of print5 Apr 2022
PublishedDec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust (Principal Investigator: Marco Catani; 103759/Z/14/Z). For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. Data were provided in part by the Human Connectome Project, WU-Minn Consortium (Principal Investigators: David Van Essen and Kamil Ugurbil; 1U54MH091657) funded by the 16 NIH Institutes and Centres that support the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research; and by the McDonnell Centre for Systems Neuroscience at Washington University. The authors are grateful to Dr. Carlo Sestieri, Dr. Massimo Caulo, Dr. Giuseppe Zappalà, Dr. Sergio Della Sala, and the members of the NatBrainLab ( www.natbrainlab.co.uk ) for their feedback. Publisher Copyright: © 2022, The Author(s).

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Abstract

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.

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