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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

June 2004, Vol. 16, No. 5, Pages 878-888
(doi: 10.1162/089892904970753)
© 2004 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Effects of Strategies on Mental Rotation and Hemispheric Lateralization: Neuropsychological Evidence
Article PDF (993.55 KB)

We can predict how an object would look if we were to see it from different viewpoints by imagining its rotation. This essential human ability, called mental rotation (MR), guides individuals' actions by constantly updating their environmental consequences. It is, however, still under debate whether the way in which our brain accomplishes this operation is dete r mined by the type of stimulus or rather by a mental strategy. Here we present neuropsychological evidence sustaining the view that what matters is the type of strategy adopted in MR. Thus, independently of the type of stimulus, patients with left hemisphere lesions showed a selective deficit in MR as a consequence of their manual activity, whereas patients with right hemisphere lesions were found impaired in MR by means of a visual strategy. We conclude that MR is achieved by recruiting different strategies, implicitly triggered or prompted at will, each sustained by a unilateral brain network.