The Timecourse of Activation Within the Cortical Network Associated with Visual Imagery

Sharlene D Newman*, Donghoon Lee, L Christopher Bates
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA

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2007 Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA; E-mail:


The current study examined the hemodynamic timecourse of activation within a network of regions that is thought to be associated with visual imagery. Two experimental conditions were examined that were designed to place differential demands on specific nodes within the visual imagery network. The two tasks were an object inspection task and a mental rotation task. The two conditions recruited overlapping cortical regions; however several regions revealed a differential response to object inspection and mental rotation. The mental rotation condition elicited greater activation in parietal cortex, lateral occipital/temporal regions, and bilateral prefrontal cortex. Conversely, the object inspection condition elicited greater activation in inferior extrastriate cortex, the inferior frontal gyrus, and the right cerebellum. When examining the timecourse of activation three different timecourse patterns were observed across cortical regions and conditions. The shape of the hemodynamic timecourse appears to correspond strongly with the cognitive processing taking place within the region, not the stimulus paradigm. The paper discusses the significance of those varying timecourse shapes and has implications for the appropriateness of using the canonical hrf during fMRI data analysis.