Selective right parietal lobe activation during mental rotation. A parametric PET study

Irina M. Harris*, Gary F. Egan, Cynon Sonkkila, Henri J. Tochon-Danguy, George Paxinos, John D G Watson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    254 Citations (Scopus)


    Regional cerebral blood how (rCBF) was measured with PET in seven healthy subjects while they carried out a mental rotation task in which they decided whether alphanumeric characters presented in different orientations were in their canonical form or mirror-reversed. Consistent with previous findings, subjects took proportionally longer to respond as characters were rotated further from the upright, indicating that they were mentally rotating the characters to the upright position before making a decision. We used a parametric design in which we varied the mental rotation demands in an incremental fashion while keeping all other aspects of the task constant. In four different scanning conditions, 10, 40, 70 or 100% of the stimuli presented during the scan required mental rotation while the rest were upright. The statistical parametric mapping technique was used to identify areas where changes in rCBF were correlated with the rotational demands of the task. Significant activation was found in only one area located in the right posterior parietal lobe, centred on the intraparietal sulcus (Brodmann area 7). The experimental literature on monkeys and humans suggests that this area is involved in a variety of spatial transformations. Our results contribute evidence that such transformations are recruited during mental rotation and add to a body of evidence which suggests that the right posterior parietal lobe is important for carrying out visuospatial transformations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-73
    Number of pages9
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2000


    • Intraparietal sulcus
    • Mental rotation
    • PET
    • Right parietal lobe
    • Spatial transformation

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Selective right parietal lobe activation during mental rotation. A parametric PET study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this