Brain Topography

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 321–332 | Cite as

Mental Imagery for Full and Upper Human Bodies: Common Right Hemisphere Activations and Distinct Extrastriate Activations

  • Olaf Blanke
  • Silvio Ionta
  • Eleonora Fornari
  • Christine Mohr
  • Philippe Maeder
Original Paper


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.


Mental rotation Body Neuroimaging Out-of-body Neuropsychology fMRI 



The authors would like to thank Shahar Arzy and Istvan Molnar-Szakacs for their helpful comments on a previous version of the manuscript. This work was supported by the Leenaards Foundation, the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grants 3100-067874.02) and the Fondation de Famille Sandoz. This work was also supported by the Centre d’Imagerie BioMédicale (CIBM) of the University of Lausanne, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, the University of Geneva, the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), the Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève (HUG), and the Jeantet Foundation.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olaf Blanke
    • 1
    • 2
  • Silvio Ionta
    • 1
  • Eleonora Fornari
    • 3
  • Christine Mohr
    • 2
    • 4
  • Philippe Maeder
    • 5
  1. 1.Laboratory of Cognitive NeuroscienceBrain-Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)LausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyUniversity HospitalGenevaSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Radiology, CIBM-CHUV UnitCentre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  5. 5.Department of RadiologyCentre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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