Successful navigation relies on the ability to identify, perceive, and correctly process the spatial structure of a scene. It is well known that visual mental imagery plays a crucial role in navigation. Indeed, cortical regions encoding navigationally relevant information are also active during mental imagery of navigational scenes. However, it remains unknown whether their intrinsic activity and connectivity reflect the individuals’ ability to imagine a scene. Here, we primarily investigated the intrinsic causal interactions among scene-selective brain regions such as Parahipoccampal Place Area (PPA), Retrosplenial Complex, and Occipital Place Area (OPA) using Dynamic Causal Modelling for resting-state functional magnetic resonance data. Second, we tested whether resting-state effective connectivity parameters among scene-selective regions could reflect individual differences in mental imagery in our sample, as assessed by the self-reported Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire. We found an inhibitory influence of occipito-medial on temporal regions, and an excitatory influence of more anterior on more medial and posterior brain regions. Moreover, we found that a key role in imagery is played by the connection strength from OPA to PPA, especially in the left hemisphere, since the influence of the signal between these scene-selective regions positively correlated with good mental imagery ability. Our investigation contributes to the understanding of the complexity of the causal interaction among brain regions involved in navigation and provides new insight in understanding how an essential ability, such as mental imagery, can be explained by the intrinsic fluctuation of brain signal.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The present study has been supported by funding from Sapienza University of Rome (PhD program in Behavioral Neuroscience) for MGT and by the Special Research Fund of Ghent University awarded to HA (Grant No. BOF16/DOC/282; https://www.ugent.be/ ).
© 2022, The Author(s).