Temporal structure of implicit motor imagery in visual hand-shape discrimination as revealed by MEG

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WE investigated the spatio-temporal brain activity on the time scale of several milliseconds related to the mental rotation task requiring judgements of hand orientation, using a whole-cortex MEG (magnetoencephalography) system. Neuronal activity in the visual cortex was observed ∼100–200 ms from stimulus onset, and that in inferior parietal lobe followed (after 200 ms). Both of these activities showed a contralateral dominance to visual stimulus hemifield. Premotor activity started later than the inferior parietal lobe activity, and these activities partially overlapped. Activity in primary motor and/or motosensory areas was observed in some subjects. The whole-cortex neuromagnetic measurements provided the time course of activity in the human brain associated with the implicit motor imagery: visual cortex ← inferior parietal lobe ↔ premotor cortex. This process is considered to be the transformation process of retinotopic locations into a body-centered reference frame necessary for the mental rotation task.

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