The role of area 17 in visual imagery: Convergent evidence from PET and rTMS

S. M. Kosslyn, A. Pascual-Leone, O. Felician, S. Camposano, J. P. Keenan, W. L. Thompson, G. Ganis, K. E. Sukel, N. M. Alpert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

578 Scopus citations


Visual imagery is used in a wide range of mental activities, ranging from memory to reasoning, and also plays a role in perception proper. The contribution of early visual cortex, specificaLLy Area 17, to visual mental imagery was examined by the use of two convergent techniques. In one, subjects dosed their eyes during positron emission tomography (PET) while they visualized and corn pared properties (for example, relative length) of sets of stripes. The results showed that when people perform this task, Area 17 is activated. In the other, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) was applied to medial occipital cortex before presentation of the same task. Performance was impaired after rTMS compared with a sham control condition; similar results were obtained when the subjects performed the task by actually looking at the stimuli. In sum, the PET results showed that when patterns of stripes are visualized, Area 17 is activated, and the rTMS results showed that such activation underlies information processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-170
Number of pages4
Issue number5411
StatePublished - 2 Apr 1999


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