We review a series of experimental studies aimed at answering some critical questions about the neural basis of spatial imagery. Our group used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore the neural correlates of an online behaviourally controlled spatial imagery task without need for visual presentation - the mental clock task. Subjects are asked to imagine pairs of times that are presented acoustically and to judge at which of the two times the clock hands form the greater angle. The cortical activation elicited by this task was contrasted with that obtained during other visual, perceptual, verbal, and spatial imagery tasks in several block design studies. Moreover, our group performed an event-related fMRI study on the clock task to investigate the representation of component cognitive processes in spatial imagery. The bulk of our findings demonstrates that cortical areas in the posterior parietal cortex (PPC), along the intraparietal sulcus, are robustly involved in spatial mental imagery and in other tasks requiring spatial transformations. PPC is bilaterally involved in different kinds of spatial judgement. Yet the degree to which right and left PPC are activated in different tasks is a function of task requirements. From event-related fMRI data we obtained evidence that left and right PPC are activated asynchronously during the clock task and this could reflect their different functional role in subserving cognitive components of visuospatial imagery.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology