Behavior-dependent directional tuning in the human visual-navigation network
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The brain derives cognitive maps from sensory experience that guide memory formation and behavior. Despite extensive efforts, it still remains unclear how the underlying population activity unfolds during spatial navigation and how it relates to memory performance. To examine these processes, we combined 7T-fMRI with a kernel-based encoding model of virtual navigation to map world-centered directional tuning across the human cortex. First, we present an in-depth analysis of directional tuning in visual, retrosplenial, parahippocampal and medial temporal cortices. Second, we show that tuning strength, width and topology of this directional code during memory-guided navigation depend on successful encoding of the environment. Finally, we show that participants’ locomotory state influences this tuning in sensory and mnemonic regions such as the hippocampus. We demonstrate a direct link between neural population tuning and human cognition, where high-level memory processing interacts with network-wide visuospatial coding in the service of behavior.