Abstract

On the basis of double dissociations in clinical symptoms of patients with unilateral visuospatial neglect, neuropsychological research distinguishes between different spatial domains (near vs. far) and different spatial reference frames (egocentric vs. allocentric). In this fMRI study, we investigated the neural interaction between spatial domains and spatial reference frames by constructing a virtual three-dimensional world and asking participants to perform either allocentric or egocentric judgments on an object located in either near or far space. Our results suggest that the parietal–occipital junction (POJ) not only shows a preference for near-space processing but is also involved in the neural interaction between spatial domains and spatial reference frames. Two dissociable streams of visual processing exist in the human brain: a ventral perception-related stream and a dorsal action-related stream. Consistent with the perception–action model, both far-space processing and allocentric judgments draw upon the ventral stream whereas both near-space processing and egocentric judgments draw upon the dorsal stream. POJ showed higher neural activity during allocentric judgments (ventral) in near space (dorsal) and egocentric judgments (dorsal) in far space (ventral) as compared with egocentric judgments (dorsal) in near space (dorsal) and allocentric judgments (ventral) in far space (ventral). Because representations in the dorsal and ventral streams need to interact during allocentric judgments (ventral) in near space (dorsal) and egocentric judgments (dorsal) in far space (ventral), our results imply that POJ is involved in the neural interaction between the two streams. Further evidence for the suggested role of POJ as a neural interface between the dorsal and ventral streams is provided by functional connectivity analysis.

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