Cortical excitability controls the strength of mental imagery

Rebecca Keogh*, Johanna Bergmann, Joel Pearson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Mental imagery provides an essential simulation tool for remembering the past and planning the future, with its strength affecting both cognition and mental health. Research suggests that neural activity spanning prefrontal, parietal, temporal, and visual areas supports the generation of mental images. Exactly how this network controls the strength of visual imagery remains unknown. Here, brain imaging and transcranial magnetic phosphene data show that lower resting activity and excitability levels in early visual cortex (V1-V3) predict stronger sensory imagery. Further, electrically decreasing visual cortex excitability using tDCS increases imagery strength, demonstrating a causative role of visual cortex excitability in controlling visual imagery. Together, these data suggest a neurophysiological mechanism of cortical excitability involved in controlling the strength of mental images.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere50232
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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