When is early visual cortex activated during visual mental imagery?

Psychol Bull. 2003 Sep;129(5):723-46. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.129.5.723.


Although many neuroimaging studies of visual mental imagery have revealed activation in early visual cortex (Areas 17 or 18), many others have not. The authors review this literature and compare how well 3 models explain the disparate results. Each study was coded 1 or 0, indicating whether activation in early visual cortex was observed, and sets of variables associated with each model were fit to the observed results using logistic regression analysis. Three variables predicted all of the systematic differences in the probability of activation across studies. Two of these variables were identified with a perceptual anticipation theory, and the other was identified with a methodological factors theory. Thus, the variability in the literature is not random.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Psychological Theory
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • Visual Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Cortex / blood supply*
  • Visual Cortex / metabolism*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*