Publication Date

2014

Abstract

Transection of the nonhuman primate fornix has been shown to impair learning of configurations of spatial features and object-in-scene memory. Although damage to the human fornix also results in memory impairment, it is not known whether there is a preferential involvement of this white-matter tract in spatial learning, as implied by animal studies. Diffusion-weighted MR images were obtained from healthy participants who had completed versions of a task in which they made rapid same/different discriminations to two categories of highly visually similar stimuli: ( 1 ) virtual reality scene pairs; and ( 2 ) face pairs. Diffusion-MRI measures of white-matter microstructure [fractional anisotropy ( FA ) and mean diffusivity ( MD )] and macrostructure ( tissue volume fraction, f ) were then extracted from the fornix of each participant, which had been reconstructed using a deterministic tractography protocol. Fornix MD and fmeasures correlated with scene, but not face, discrimination accuracy in both discrimination tasks. A complementary voxelwise analysis using tract-based spatial statistics suggested the crus of the fornix as a focus for this relationship. These findings extend previous reports of spatial learning impairments after fornix transection in nonhuman primates, critically highlighting the fornix as a source of interindividual variation in scene discrimination in humans.

Document Type

Open Access Journal Article

Access Rights

Open Access

Notes

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.

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