Public Release: 

Distinct systems for recognizing, navigating places

Research could have important implications for computer vision systems in self-driving cars

Society for Neuroscience


IMAGE: Example images from the experimental scans. The correct answers for the categorization task (from left to right) are 'bedroom', 'kitchen', 'living room'. The correct answers for the navigation task (from... view more 

Credit: Persichetti & Dilks, JNeurosci (2018)

Our abilities to recognize places and find our way through them engage different parts of the brain, according to new findings from a neuroimaging study reported in JNeurosci. The research suggests humans process their environment like the objects within them, through distinct "what" and "how" systems in the brain.

Daniel Dilks and Andrew Persichetti asked healthy adults to either identify, imagine navigating through, or compare images of common places: a bedroom, kitchen, or living room. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers found that two brain regions sensitive to visual scenes were selectively activated depending on the task at hand; the parahippocampal place area responded more strongly to the categorization task while the occipital place area responded more strongly to the navigation task. The results show the human visual system is more multifaceted than previously thought. This work could have important implications for the design of computer vision systems, with applications ranging from self-driving cars to recovery from various brain injuries.


Article: Dissociable neural systems for recognizing places and navigating through them


Corresponding author: Daniel Dilks (Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA),

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.