Dynamic premotor-to-parietal interactions during spatial imagery

Sack, A.T., Jacobs, C., De Martino, F., Staeren, N., Goebel, R. and Formisano, E. 2008. Dynamic premotor-to-parietal interactions during spatial imagery. The Journal of Neuroscience. 28 (34), pp. 8417-8429. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2656-08.2008

TitleDynamic premotor-to-parietal interactions during spatial imagery
AuthorsSack, A.T., Jacobs, C., De Martino, F., Staeren, N., Goebel, R. and Formisano, E.
Abstract

The neurobiological processes underlying mental imagery are a matter of debate and controversy among neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, philosophers, and biologists. Recent neuroimaging studies demonstrated that the execution of mental imagery activates large frontoparietal and occipitotemporal networks in the human brain. These previous imaging studies, however, neglected the crucial interplay within and across the widely distributed cortical networks of activated brain regions. Here, we combined time-resolved event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging with analyses of interactions between brain regions (functional and effective brain connectivity) to unravel the premotor–parietal dynamics underlying spatial imagery. Participants had to sequentially construct and spatially transform a mental visual object based on either verbal or visual instructions. By concurrently accounting for the full spatiotemporal pattern of brain activity and network connectivity, we functionally segregated an early from a late premotor–parietal imagery network. Moreover, we revealed that the modality-specific information upcoming from sensory brain regions is first sent to the premotor cortex and then to the medial-dorsal parietal cortex, i.e., top-down from the motor to the perceptual pole during spatial imagery. Importantly, we demonstrate that the premotor cortex serves as the central relay station, projecting to parietal cortex at two functionally distinct stages during spatial imagery. Our approach enabled us to disentangle the multicomponential cognitive construct of mental imagery into its different cognitive subelements. We discuss and explicitly assign these mental subprocesses to each of the revealed effective brain connectivity networks and present an integrative neurobiological model of spatial imagery.

JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
Journal citation28 (34), pp. 8417-8429
ISSN0270-6474
YearAug 2008
PublisherSociety for Neuroscience
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2656-08.2008
Publication dates
PublishedAug 2008

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