Reversal of cortical information flow during visual imagery as compared to visual perception.
The role of bottom-up and top-down connections during visual perception and the formation of mental images was examined by analyzing high-density EEG recordings of brain activity using two state-of-the-art methods for assessing the directionality of cortical signal flow: state-space Granger causality and dynamic causal modeling. We quantified the directionality of signal flow in an occipito-parieto-frontal cortical network during perception of movie clips versus mental replay of the movies and free visual imagery. Both Granger causality and dynamic causal modeling analyses revealed an increased top-down signal flow in parieto-occipital cortices during mental imagery as compared to visual perception. These results are the first direct demonstration of a reversal of the predominant direction of cortical signal flow during mental imagery as compared to perception.