Effects of stimulus type and strategy on mental rotation network: An activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis

Barbara Tomasino, Michele Gremese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We can predict how an object would look like if we were to see it from different viewpoints. The brain network governing mental rotation (MR) has been studied using a variety of stimuli and tasks instructions. By using activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis we tested whether different MR networks can be modulated by the type of stimulus (body vs. non-body parts) or by the type of tasks instructions (motor imagery-based vs. non-motor imagery-based MR instructions). Testing for the bodily and non-bodily stimulus axis revealed a bilateral sensorimotor activation for bodily-related as compared to non-bodily-related stimuli and a posterior right lateralized activation for non-bodily-related as compared to bodily-related stimuli. A top-down modulation of the network was exerted by the MR tasks instructions with a bilateral (preferentially sensorimotor left) network for motor imagery- vs. non-motor imagery- based MR instructions and the latter activating a preferentially posterior right occipitotemporal-parietal network. The present quantitative meta-analysis summarizes and amends previous descriptions of the brain network related to MR and shows how it is modulated by top-down and bottom-up experimental factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number693
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberJAN2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 7 2016


  • ALE meta-analysis
  • fMRI
  • Mental imagery
  • Mental rotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neurology
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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