Mental maze solving: directional
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

A functional neuroimaging procedure using MRI technology that measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow. This technique relies on the fact that cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation are coupled. When an area of the brain is in use, blood flow to that region also increases.[citation needed] The primary form of fMRI uses the blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) contrast, discovered by Seiji Ogawa. This is a type of specialized brain and body scan used to map neural activity in the brain or spinal cord of humans or other animals by imaging the change in blood flow (hemodynamic response) related to energy use by brain cells. Since the early 1990s, fMRI has come to dominate brain mapping research because it does not require people to undergo shots, surgery, or to ingest substances, or be exposed to ionising radiation, etc.
tuning and population coding in the superior parietal lobule

Experimental Brain Research - 2005-09-01Gourtzelidis P, Tzagarakis C, Lewis S, Crowe D, Auerbach EJ, Jerde T, Ugurbil K, Georgopoulos AP10.1007/s00221-005-2298-6
The superior parietal lobule (SPL) of six human subjects was imaged at 4 T during mental traversing of a directed maze path. Here we demonstrate the orderly involvement of the SPL in this function, as follows. Forty-two percent of the voxels were tuned with respect to the direction of the maze path. This suggests a coherent tuning of local neuronal populations contributing to the change of the single-voxel BOLD signal. Preferred directions ranged throughout the directional continuum of 360°. Voxels with similar preferred directions tended to cluster together: on average there were seven same-direction clusters per slice, with an average cluster membership of five voxels/cluster and an average nearest-neighbor same-direction intercluster distance of 13.1 mm. On the other hand, the average nearest-neighbor intercluster distance between a given direction and all other directions was 3.1 mm. This suggests a patchy arrangement such that patches of directionally tuned voxels, containing voxels with different preferred directions, alternate with patches of non-tuned voxels. Finally, the population vector predicted accurately the direction of the maze path (with an error of 12.7°), and provided good estimates (with an error of 29°) when calculated within parts of the SPL. Altogether, these findings document a new, orderly functional organization of the SPL with respect to mental tracing.