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.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences > Clinical and Systems Neuroscience
College of Health & Life Sciences
Additional Information: © 2017 Stephan-Otto et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. All neuroimaging data files are available from the database (accession number ds000203). The access link is
Uncontrolled Keywords: Medicine(all),Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all),Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
Publication ISSN: 1932-6203
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Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2017-01-03
Accepted Date: 2016-12-19
Submitted Date: 2016-06-21
Authors: Stephan-Otto, Christian
Siddi, Sara
Senior, Carl (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-2155-4139)
Muñoz-Samons, Daniel
Ochoa, Susana
Sánchez-Laforga, Ana María
Brébion, Gildas



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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