The Motor-Free Visual Perception Test, revised (MVPT-R), provides a measure of visual perceptual processing. It involves different cognitive elements including visual discrimination, spatial relationships, and mental rotation. We adapted the MVPT-R to an event-related functional MRI (fMRI) environment to investigate the brain regions involved in the interrelation of these cognitive elements. Two complementary analysis methods were employed to characterize the fMRI data: (a) a general linear model SPM approach based upon a model of the time course and a hemodynamic response estimate and (b) independent component analysis (ICA), which does not constrain the specific shape of the time course per se, although we did require it to be at least transiently task-related. Additionally, we implemented ICA in a novel way to create a group average that was compared with the SPM group results. Both methods yielded similar, but not identical, results and detected a network of robustly activated visual, inferior parietal, and frontal eye-field areas as well as thalamus and cerebellum. SPM appeared to be the more sensitive method and has a well-developed theoretical approach to thresholding. The ICA method segregated functional elements into separate maps and identified additional regions with extended activation in response to presented events. The results demonstrate the utility of complementary analyses for fMRI data and suggest that the cerebellum may play a significant role in visual perceptual processing. Additionally, results illustrate functional connectivity between frontal eye fields and prefrontal and parietal regions.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.