March 2020, Vol. 32, No. 3, Pages 484-496
There is growing evidence that vestibular information is not only involved in reflexive eye movements and the control of posture but it also plays an important role in higher order cognitive processes. Previous behavioral research has shown that concomitant vestibular stimuli influence performance in tasks that involve imagined self-rotations. These results suggest that imagined and perceived body rotations share common mechanisms. However, the nature and specificity of these effects remain largely unknown. Here, we investigated the neural mechanisms underlying this vestibulocognitive interaction. Participants (n = 20) solved an imagined self-rotation task during caloric vestibular stimulation. We found robust main effects of caloric vestibular stimulation in the core region of the vestibular network, including the rolandic operculum and insula bilaterally, and of the cognitive task in parietal and frontal regions. Interestingly, we found an interaction of stimulation and task in the left inferior parietal lobe, suggesting that this region represents the modulation of imagined body rotations by vestibular input. This result provides evidence that the inferior parietal lobe plays a crucial role in the neural integration of mental and physical body rotation.