Mental imagery for full and upper human bodies: common right hemisphere activations and distinct extrastriate activations

Brain Topogr. 2010 Sep;23(3):321-32. doi: 10.1007/s10548-010-0138-x. Epub 2010 Mar 24.


The processing of human bodies is important in social life and for the recognition of another person's actions, moods, and intentions. Recent neuroimaging studies on mental imagery of human body parts suggest that the left hemisphere is dominant in body processing. However, studies on mental imagery of full human bodies reported stronger right hemisphere or bilateral activations. Here, we measured functional magnetic resonance imaging during mental imagery of bilateral partial (upper) and full bodies. Results show that, independently of whether a full or upper body is processed, the right hemisphere (temporo-parietal cortex, anterior parietal cortex, premotor cortex, bilateral superior parietal cortex) is mainly involved in mental imagery of full or partial human bodies. However, distinct activations were found in extrastriate cortex for partial bodies (right fusiform face area) and full bodies (left extrastriate body area). We propose that a common brain network, mainly on the right side, is involved in the mental imagery of human bodies, while two distinct brain areas in extrastriate cortex code for mental imagery of full and upper bodies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Human Body*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Imagery, Psychotherapy*
  • Judgment / physiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Reaction Time / physiology


  • Oxygen