Study provides new insights into the functional neuroanatomy of motor imagery

ible muscle contractions during motor imagery and to capture them during motor execution and responses, muscle activity was electronically monitored during actual MRI acquisition. Statistical parametric mapping revealed brain areas predominantly related to motor execution or motor imagery, and areas equally activated during both motor execution and imagery.

By capitalizing on relatively fine temporal resolution, sustained activity during the motor execution and imagery task compared with transient activity related to the response movement was also analyzed (time-course analysis). The time course analysis helped characterize the functional property of each set of areas from a different perspective, suggesting a functional gradation from more "executive" to more "imaginative" areas.

Ten healthy volunteers [mean age, 32 + 11 (SD) years; seven males, three females] participated in this study. All were right handed and none had a history of any neuropsychiatric disorders. Core elements of the research included:

  • Number-Guided Segmented Sequential Finger Tapping Task. Subjects performed a finger-tapping task with their right hand in either a movement or an imagery mode of performance. Visually presented number stimuli (number 1, 2, or 3) that specified a segment of a finger tapping sequence guided the task throughout. For the movement mode, subjects actually executed the tapping movement as briskly and distinctly as possible. For the imagery mode, subjects were asked to imagine the corresponding tapping movement being performed by them (first person perspective) as opposed to the movement being performed by someone else, without any accompanying overt movement.
  • Visual Fixation Task: A visual fixation task was employed as a baseline condition for the fMRI experiment. Subjects were instructed to keep fixating on a cross that roughly matched the number stimuli in size and was presented for 750 ms at a rate

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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