Bilateral parietal activations for complex visual-spatial functions: Evidence from a visual-spatial construction task

Anna Seydell-Greenwald, Katrina Ferrara, Catherine E. Chambers, Elissa L. Newport, Barbara Landau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In this paper, we examine brain lateralization patterns for a complex visual-spatial task commonly used to assess general spatial abilities. Although spatial abilities have classically been ascribed to the right hemisphere, evidence suggests that at least some tasks may be strongly bilateral. For example, while functional neuroimaging studies show right-lateralized activations for some spatial tasks (e.g., line bisection), bilateral activations are often reported for others, including classic spatial tasks such as mental rotation. Moreover, constructive apraxia has been reported following left- as well as right-hemisphere damage in adults, suggesting a role for the left hemisphere in spatial function. Here, we use functional neuroimaging to probe lateralization while healthy adults carry out a simplified visual-spatial construction task, in which they judge whether two geometric puzzle pieces can be combined to form a square. The task evokes strong bilateral activations, predominantly in parietal and lateral occipital cortex. Bilaterality was observed at the single-subject as well as at the group level, and regardless of whether specific items required mental rotation. We speculate that complex visual-spatial tasks may generally engage more bilateral activation of the brain than previously thought, and we discuss implications for understanding hemispheric specialization for spatial functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-206
Number of pages13
JournalNeuropsychologia
Volume106
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

Fingerprint

Functional Neuroimaging
Cerebral Dominance
Apraxias
Occipital Lobe
Brain
Spatial Navigation

Keywords

  • Construction task
  • FMRI
  • Lateralization
  • Parietal lobe
  • Visual-spatial functions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Bilateral parietal activations for complex visual-spatial functions : Evidence from a visual-spatial construction task. / Seydell-Greenwald, Anna; Ferrara, Katrina; Chambers, Catherine E.; Newport, Elissa L.; Landau, Barbara.

In: Neuropsychologia, Vol. 106, 01.11.2017, p. 194-206.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Seydell-Greenwald, Anna ; Ferrara, Katrina ; Chambers, Catherine E. ; Newport, Elissa L. ; Landau, Barbara. / Bilateral parietal activations for complex visual-spatial functions : Evidence from a visual-spatial construction task. In: Neuropsychologia. 2017 ; Vol. 106. pp. 194-206.
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