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Neuroimage. 2010 Aug 15;52(2):677-85. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.04.239. Epub 2010 Apr 24.

Modality-specific and modality-independent components of the human imagery system.

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  • 1University of Amsterdam, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, The Netherlands.


Imagery research typically deals with the commonalities and differences between imagery and perception. As such, it is usually confined to one specific modality. Yet, it is likely that some of the underlying processes are shared between different sensory modalities while others are modality-specific. In this fMRI study, we used a balanced design that allowed for a direct comparison between imagery and perception in visual and auditory modalities, and also for a link between subjective imagery experience and brain activation. Results indicated a selective role for the "default mode network" as a modality-independent "core" imagery network. In addition, results identified areas in the visual and auditory association cortices that contributed to mental imagery in a modality-specific fashion. Interestingly during mental imagery, primary visual and auditory cortices showed modality-specific suppression of activity. This is the first fMRI study to characterize both modality-specific and modality-independent components of the human imagery system.

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