Object familiarity modulates the relationship between visual object imagery and haptic shape perception

Neuroimage. 2010 Feb 1;49(3):1977-90. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.10.081. Epub 2009 Nov 4.


Although visual cortical engagement in haptic shape perception is well established, its relationship with visual imagery remains controversial. We addressed this using functional magnetic resonance imaging during separate visual object imagery and haptic shape perception tasks. Two experiments were conducted. In the first experiment, the haptic shape task employed unfamiliar, meaningless objects, whereas familiar objects were used in the second experiment. The activations evoked by visual object imagery overlapped more extensively, and their magnitudes were more correlated, with those evoked during haptic shape perception of familiar, compared to unfamiliar, objects. In the companion paper (Deshpande et al., this issue), we used task-specific functional and effective connectivity analyses to provide convergent evidence: these analyses showed that the neural networks underlying visual imagery were similar to those underlying haptic shape perception of familiar, but not unfamiliar, objects. We conclude that visual object imagery is more closely linked to haptic shape perception when objects are familiar, compared to when they are unfamiliar.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Form Perception / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Young Adult