Neural correlate of the projection of mental states on the not-structured visual stimuli

Massimiliano Luciani, Marco Cecchini, Daniela Altavilla, Letizia Palumbo, Paola Aceto, Giuseppe Ruggeri, Fabrizio Vecchio, Carlo Lai

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Projection is a spontaneous and complex mental activity responsible for the subjective meaning attribution. The hypotheses of this study were that the neural correlate of projection may involve frontal, parietal, and temporal brain areas, and that alexithymia may be negatively associated with intensities in limbic and paralimbic areas during projection. EEG data were recorded continuously at 250. Hz using NetStation 4.5.1 with 256-channels HydroCel Geodesic Sensor Net in 20 healthy subjects during the presentation of structured and not-structured visual stimuli. The tasks were paying attention to the stimuli and thinking about the possible meaning of each image. Event related potential (ERP) components and low-resolution electromagnetic tomography (sLoreta) were analyzed. Participants were administered the 20-Item Toronto Alexithymia Scale before stimulus presentation. Source analyses (sLORETA) showed a greater activated source in the left primary somatosensory cortex (BA1) compared to all the others BA in both conditions through all the ERP components. An involvement of the frontal (right-BA4, left- and right-BA9, left-BA11) and parietal (left and right-BA2 and left-BA7) areas was found in projective response to not-structured visual stimuli. Alexithymia levels were negatively correlated with the anterior (right-BA32) and posterior (left-BA29) cingulate cortex. Findings show the relevance of fronto-parieto circuits during projection, where the internally generating somatosensory representations could drive an intermodal meaning attribution during the task. Moreover, high alexithymia levels were associated with a reduced activation of the cingulated cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-29
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Publication statusPublished - Jun 24 2014


  • Alexithymia
  • Projection
  • Rorschach test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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    Luciani, M., Cecchini, M., Altavilla, D., Palumbo, L., Aceto, P., Ruggeri, G., Vecchio, F., & Lai, C. (2014). Neural correlate of the projection of mental states on the not-structured visual stimuli. Neuroscience Letters, 573, 24-29.