Russell A Epstein, Ph.D.

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Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
3720 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-573-3532
Fax: 215-898-1982
B.A. (Physics)
University of Chicago, 1991.
Ph.D. (Applied Mathematics: Computer vision)
Harvard University, 1996.
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Description of Research Expertise

All mobile organisms must represent the space around them if they are to successfully move and act in the world. In our lab, we use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and behavioral testing to uncover the mechanisms that support spatial representation in humans. We are particularly interested in representations that are critical for navigation, such as representations of places (particular locations in the world) and scenes (i.e. the set of visual inputs observed when in a particular place).

Previous work by our lab and others has identified a region in the parahippocampal cortex (the "parahippocampal place area", or PPA) that appears to play a key role in processing information about the spatial structure of visual scenes. The PPA responds selectively to both pictures of real and artificial scenes including furnished rooms, empty rooms, cityscapes, and landscapes. The PPA is not significantly active when faces, objects, or even groups of objects are presented (Epstein et al. 2001; Epstein et al. 1999; Epstein & Kanwisher 1998).

We are currently extending this work by attempting to delineate the larger network of brain regions involved in processing navigationally-relevant spatial information, and understanding how these regions interact during place learning and place recognition. We are also generally interested in how scene, place, object, and event representations are organized in the human cortex.
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Last updated: 09/18/2012
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