Common and distinct neural trends of allocentric and egocentric spatial coding: An ALE meta-analysis

Abiot Y. Derbie, Bolton K.H. Chau, Clive H.Y. Wong, Li Dian Chen, Kin hung Ting, Bess Y.H. Lam, Tatia M.C. Lee, Chetwyn C.H. Chan (Corresponding Author), Yoland Smith

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The uniqueness of neural processes between allocentric and egocentric spatial coding has been controversial. The distinctive paradigms used in previous studies for manipulating spatial coding could have attributed for the inconsistent results. This study was aimed to generate converging evidence from previous functional brain imaging experiments for collating neural substrates associated with these two types of spatial coding. An additional aim was to test whether test-taking processes would have influenced the results. We obtained coordinate-based functional neuroimaging data for 447 subjects and performed activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis. Among the 28 experiments, the results indicate two common clusters of convergence. They were the right precuneus and the right superior frontal gyrus as parts of the parieto-frontal circuit. Between-type differences were in the parieto-occipital circuit, with allocentric showing convergence in the superior occipital gyrus (SOG) cluster compared with egocentric showing convergence in the middle occipital gyrus (MOG) cluster. Task-specific influences were only found in allocentric spatial coding. Spatial judgment-oriented tasks seem to increase the demands on manipulating spatial relationships among the visual objects, while spatial navigation tasks seem to increase the demands on maintaining object representations. Our findings address the theoretical controversies on spatial coding that both the allocentric and egocentric types are common in their processes mediated by the parieto-frontal network, while unique and additional processes in the allocentric type are mediated by the parieto-occipital network. The positive results on possible task-specific confound offer insights into the future design of spatial tasks for eliciting spatial coding processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3672-3687
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2021


  • allocentric frame of reference
  • egocentric frame of reference
  • neuroimaging meta-analysis
  • parieto-frontal circuit
  • parieto-occipital circuit
  • spatial judgment
  • spatial navigation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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