Visual Imagery and False Memory for Pictures: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study in Healthy Participants


BACKGROUND Visual mental imagery might be critical in the ability to discriminate imagined from perceived pictures. Our aim was to investigate the neural bases of this specific type of reality-monitoring process in individuals with high visual imagery abilities. METHODS A reality-monitoring task was administered to twenty-six healthy participants using functional magnetic resonance imaging. During the encoding phase, 45 words designating common items, and 45 pictures of other common items, were presented in random order. During the recall phase, participants were required to remember whether a picture of the item had been presented, or only a word. Two subgroups of participants with a propensity for high vs. low visual imagery were contrasted. RESULTS Activation of the amygdala, left inferior occipital gyrus, insula, and precuneus were observed when high visual imagers encoded words later remembered as pictures. At the recall phase, these same participants activated the middle frontal gyrus and inferior and superior parietal lobes when erroneously remembering pictures. CONCLUSIONS The formation of visual mental images might activate visual brain areas as well as structures involved in emotional processing. High visual imagers demonstrate increased activation of a fronto-parietal source-monitoring network that enables distinction between imagined and perceived pictures.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169551

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@inproceedings{StephanOtto2017VisualIA, title={Visual Imagery and False Memory for Pictures: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study in Healthy Participants}, author={Christian Stephan-Otto and Sara Siddi and Carl Senior and Daniel Mu{\~n}oz-Samons and Susana Ochoa and Ana Mar{\'i}a S{\'a}nchez-Laforga and Gildas Br{\'e}bion}, booktitle={PloS one}, year={2017} }