Previous behavioral studies suggest that response measures related to the body, such as pointing, serve to anchor participants to their physical body during mental rotation tasks in which their perspective must be shifted elsewhere. This study investigated whether such measures engage spatial and low-level cortical motor areas of the brain more readily than non-body-related measures. We directly compared activation found in two imagined perspective rotation tasks, using responses that varied in the degree to which they emphasized the human body. In the body minimize condition, participants imagined rotating themselves around an object and judged whether a prescribed part of the object would be visible from the imagined viewpoint. In the body maximize condition, participants imagined rotating around the object and then located the prescribed object part with respect to their bodies. A direct comparison of neural activation in both conditions revealed distinct yet overlapping neural regions. The body maximize condition yielded activation in low-level cortical motor areas such as premotor cortex and primary motor cortex, as well as bilateral spatial processing areas. The body minimize condition yielded activation in nonmotoric egocentric processing regions. However, both conditions showed activation in the parietal–occipital region that is thought to be involved in egocentric transformations. These findings are discussed in the context of recent hypotheses regarding the role of the body percept in imagined egocentric transformations.

You do not currently have access to this content.