Visuospatial coding as ubiquitous scaffolding for human cognition

Iris I.A. Groen, Tessa M. Dekker, Tomas Knapen, Edward H. Silson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


For more than 100 years we have known that the visual field is mapped onto the surface of visual cortex, imposing an inherently spatial reference frame on visual information processing. Recent studies highlight visuospatial coding not only throughout visual cortex, but also brain areas not typically considered visual. Such widespread access to visuospatial coding raises important questions about its role in wider cognitive functioning. Here, we synthesise these recent developments and propose that visuospatial coding scaffolds human cognition by providing a reference frame through which neural computations interface with environmental statistics and task demands via perception–action loops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-96
Number of pages16
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number1
Early online date16 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr Chris Baker, Dr Marty Sereno, and Dr Caroline Robertson for insightful comments on an earlier version. We also thank Dr Michael Bonner, Dr Michael Arcaro, Dr Jesse Gomez, Prof. Kalanit Grill-Spector, Dr Ben De Haas, and Dr Silvia Rigato for permission to adapt figures, and Martin Szinte for providing novel figures. No interests are declared.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • category selectivity
  • cognition
  • computational modelling
  • cortical development
  • retinotopic maps
  • scaffolding
  • visual field biases
  • visuospatial coding


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