Mental imagery of faces and places activates corresponding stiimulus-specific brain regions

J Cogn Neurosci. 2000 Nov;12(6):1013-23. doi: 10.1162/08989290051137549.


What happens in the brain when you conjure up a mental image in your mind's eye? We tested whether the particular regions of extrastriate cortex activated during mental imagery depend on the content of the image. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRRI), we demonstrated selective activation within a region of cortex specialized for face perception during mental imagery of faces, and selective activation within a place-selective cortical region during imagery of places. In a further study, we compared the activation for imagery and perception in these regions, and found greater response magnitudes for perception than for imagery of the same items. Finally, we found that it is possible to determine the content of single cognitive events from an inspection of the fMRI data from individual imagery trials. These findings strengthen evidence that imagery and perception share common processing mechanisms, and demonstrate that the specific brain regions activated during mental imagery depend on the content of the visual image.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Social Perception