Pinpointing the peripheral bias in neural scene-processing networks during natural viewing

Christopher Baldassano, Li Fei-Fei, Diane M. Beck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Peripherally presented stimuli evoke stronger activity in scene-processing regions than foveally presented stimuli, suggesting that scene understanding is driven largely by peripheral information. We used functional MRI to investigate whether functional connectivity evoked during natural perception of audiovisual movies reflects this peripheral bias. For each scene-sensitive region-the parahippocampal place area (PPA), retrosplenial cortex, and occipital place area-we computed two measures: the extent to which its activity could be predicted by V1 activity (connectivity strength) and the eccentricities within V1 to which it was most closely related (connectivity profile). Scene regions were most related to peripheral voxels in V1, but the detailed nature of this connectivity varied within and between these regions. The retrosplenial cortex showed the most consistent peripheral bias but was less predictable from V1 activity, while the occipital place area was related to a wider range of eccentricities and was strongly coupled to V1. We divided the PPA along its posterior-anterior axis into retinotopic maps PHC1, PHC2, and anterior PPA, and found that a peripheral bias was detectable throughout all subregions, though the anterior PPA showed a less consistent relationship to eccentricity and a substantially weaker overall relationship to V1. We also observed an opposite foveal bias in object-perception regions including the lateral occipital complex and fusiform face area. These results show a fine-scale relationship between eccentricity biases and functional correlation during natural perception, giving new insight into the structure of the scene-perception network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


  • Audiovisual
  • Eccentricity
  • FMRI
  • Functional connectivity
  • OPA
  • PHC
  • PPA
  • Periphery
  • RSC
  • Receptive field
  • TOS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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