Andreas Roepstorff

Frontal eye fields involved in shifting frame of reference within working memory for scenes

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  • Section for Anthropology and Ethnography
  • Center for Functionally Integrative Neuroscience
Working memory (WM) evoked by linguistic cues for allocentric spatial and egocentric spatial aspects of a visual scene was investigated by correlating fMRI BOLD signal (or "activation") with performance on a spatial-relations task. Subjects indicated the relative positions of a person or object (referenced by the personal pronouns "he/she/it") in a previously-shown image relative to either themselves (egocentric reference frame) or shifted to a reference frame anchored in another person or object in the image (allocentric reference frame), e.g. "Was he in front of you/her?" Good performers had both shorter response time and more correct responses than poor performers in both tasks. These behavioural variables were entered into a principal component analysis. The first component reflected generalised performance level. We found that the frontal eye fields (FEF), bilaterally, had a higher BOLD response during recall involving allocentric compared to egocentric spatial reference frames, and that this difference was larger in good performers than in poor performers as measured by the first behavioural principal component. The frontal eye fields may be used when subjects move their internal gaze during shifting reference frames in representational space. Analysis of actual eye movements in 3 subjects revealed no difference between egocentric and allocentric recall tasks where visual stimuli were also absent. Thus, the FEF machinery for directing eye movements may also be involved in changing reference frames within WM.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuropsychologia
Volume46
Pages (from-to)399-408
ISSN0028-3932
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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