The present study investigated the relation of brain activity patterns measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and slow event-related potentials (ERPs) associated with a complex cognitive task. A second goal was to examine the neural correlates of spatial imagery of haptically - instead of visually - acquired representations. Using a mental image scanning task, spatial imagery requirements were systematically manipulated by parametrically varying the distance between haptically acquired landmarks. Results showed a close relation between slow ERPs and the blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signal in human parietal lobe. Reaction times of mental scanning correlated with the distances between landmarks on the learned display. In parallel, duration and amplitude of slow ERPs and duration of the haemodynamic response systematically varied as a function of mental scanning distance. Source analysis confirmed that the ERP imagery effect likely originated from the same cortical substrate as the corresponding BOLD effect. This covariation of the BOLD signal with slow ERPs is in line with recent findings in animals demonstrating a tight link between local field potentials and the BOLD signal. The parietal location of the imagery effect is consistent with the idea that externally triggered (perceptual) and mentally driven (imagery) spatial processes are both mediated by the same supramodal brain areas.
Schicke, T., Muckli, L., Beer, A. L., Wibral, M., Singer, W., Goebel, R. W., Rosler, F., & Roder, B. (2006). Tight covariation of BOLD signal changes and slow ERPs in the parietal cortex in a parametric spatial imagery task with haptic acquisition. European Journal of Neuroscience, 23, 1910-1918. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-9568.2006.04720.x