Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 6:3 (2011), pp. 286-293; doi: 10.1093/scan/nsq038


Copyright © 2010 William A. Cunningham, Ingrid R. Johnsen and Ashley S. Waggoner. Published by Oxford University Press. Used by permission.


Prior research has shown that the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) plays an important role in the representation of the evaluation of stimuli, regardless of stimulus modality. Based on these findings, researchers have proposed that the OFC serves a common currency function, allowing for the direct comparison of different types of perceptual stimuli (e.g. food, drink, money). The present study was designed to extend this research and investigate whether these same regions of OFC that have been identified in previous research are involved in evaluating imagined stimuli. Specifically, we asked participants to draw on prior attitudinal knowledge to generate internal representations of liked and disliked exemplars from different categories during functional magnetic resonance imaging. The results of this study support the idea that imagined stimuli (regardless of stimulus category) are evaluated in the OFC using a common system that has been identified in previous research for externally perceived stimuli.