The mental and the neural: Psychological and neural studies of mental rotation and memory scanning

In this article we review studies pertaining to psychophysical measurements and neural correlates of tasks requiring the processing of directional information in spatial motor tasks. The results of psychological studies in human subjects indicate that time-consuming processes underlie mental rotation and memory scanning. Other studies have suggested that these processes may rely on different basic mechanisms. A direct insight into their neural mechanisms was obtained analyzing the activity of single cells and neuronal populations in the brain of behaving monkeys performing the same tasks. These studies revealed the nature of the neural processes underlying mental rotation and memory scanning and confirmed their different nature.