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Study provides new insights into the functional neuroanatomy of motor imagery

presentations.

Another issue regarding neuroimaging studies on motor imagery is that the performance of imagination is notoriously difficult to control. To date, most studies have relied on subjective evaluation, rather than objective confirmation, of task performance. However, some neuroimaging studies on mental rotation or mental operations have successfully evaluated behavioral performance without involving any motor response during task periods. In these studies, subjects follow sensory stimuli given serially to update mental representations during the task, and then report the final image at the end of the task.

A New Study
In a new study, application of this task design allowed researchers to explore, for the first time, brain activity during explicit mental operations of finger representations with objective confirmation of performance. Specifically, specified times for a motor-imagery task were followed by a brief response period, during which subjects reported the final image of sensorimotor representation. This information was also used to explore brain areas associated with the task performance. The authors of "Functional Properties of Brain Areas Associated with Motor Execution and Imagery," are Takashi Hanakawa, Ilka Immisch, Keiichiro Toma, Michael A. Dimyan, Peter Van Gelderen, and Mark Hallett, all from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. Their findings appear in the February 2003 edition of the Journal of Neurophysiology, one of 14 scientific journals published each month by the American Physiological Society (APS).

Their research entailed using a fMRI to measure blood-oxygenation level-dependent changes as an index of neural activity. Performance during motor imagery was objectively confirmed by comparing sensory-guided execution of sequential finger tapping with mental operations of equivalent sensorimotor representations. To exclude poss
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Contact: Donna Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
703-527-7357
American Physiological Society
2-Apr-2003


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