Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Constructing a rich and coherent visual experience involves maintaining visual information that is not perceptually available in the current view. Recent studies suggest that briefly thinking about a stimulus (refreshing) can modulate activity in category-specific visual areas. Here, we tested the nature of such perceptually refreshed representations in the parahippocampal place area (PPA) and retrosplenial cortex (RSC) using fMRI. We asked whether a refreshed representation is specific to a restricted view of a scene, or more view-invariant. Participants saw a panoramic scene and were asked to think back to (refresh) a part of the scene after it disappeared. In some trials, the refresh cue appeared twice on the same side (e.g., refresh left–refresh left), and other trials, the refresh cue appeared on different sides (e.g., refresh left–refresh right). A control condition presented halves of the scene twice on same sides (e.g., perceive left–perceive left) or different sides (e.g., perceive left–perceive right). When scenes were physically repeated, both the PPA and RSC showed greater activation for the different-side repetition than the same-side repetition, suggesting view-specific representations. When participants refreshed scenes, the PPA showed view-specific activity just as in the physical repeat conditions, whereas RSC showed an equal amount of activation for different- and same-side conditions. This finding suggests that in RSC, refreshed representations were not restricted to a specific view of a scene, but extended beyond the target half into the entire scene. Thus, RSC activity associated with refreshing may provide a mechanism for integrating multiple views in the mind.