Regional brain activity during different paradigms of mental rotation in healthy volunteers: a positron emission tomography study
Vingerhoets, G × Santens, P Van Laere, Koen Lahorte, P Dierckx, R A De Reuck, J #
NeuroImage vol:13 issue:2 pages:381-91
Positron emission tomography (PET) was used to observe changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in 10 right-handed healthy volunteers performing two paradigms of mental rotation. In one paradigm, subjects mentally rotated a single alphanumeric stimulus to determine whether it was shown in a normal or mirror-image position. In a second paradigm, subjects mentally rotated and compared pairs of figurative stimuli to determine whether the stimuli were identical or mirror-images. In both paradigms, rCBF was compared with a control task that used identical stimuli, but required no mental rotation. Mental rotation of single alphanumeric stimuli engendered activation in the primary somatomotor area in the left precentral gyrus. Mental rotation of paired figures engendered activation in the left superior parietal lobule and the right frontal medial gyrus. A deactivated area was located in the medial part of the left superior frontal gyrus. Comparison of both paradigms revealed that the left gyrus precentralis was activated significantly during the alphanumeric condition and that the left gyrus lingualis was significantly activated during the paired figures condition. Motor processes may be an inherent part of every mental rotation but the type of motor involvement appears strongly dependent on the specific task or the specific stimuli. Similar paradigms, designed to isolate the same cognitive function, in the same subjects, using the same imaging technology and methodology, but differing only in stimulus material, lead to different areas of neural activation. Task specificity determines the most significant changes in cerebral blood flow in different mental rotation paradigms.