Study provides new insights into the functional neuroanatomy of motor imagery

the fixed stimulus type than for the varied stimulus type that required higher stimulus dependency. This might be especially true in the imagery mode for which subjects probably need more mental resources than for the movement mode, although this idea was not completely supported by the behavioral data (i.e., mode-by-stimulus interaction was not significant).

The results showed widespread response-related activity, reflecting many cognitive-motor processes involved in the button-press responses. This observation raises a concern about the ubiquitous assumption in neuroimaging experiments. This assumption is that subtraction of activity during a control sensorimotor task from activity during a cognitive task plus responses would reflect activity due to the cognitive task. However, such a subtraction may lead to false activation that merely reflects a difference between the complicated responses and simple movements because the response-related activity were widely present in the "nonmotor" areas including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

The results provide evidence to support the concept of functional gradation from more imaginative properties to more motor executive properties in many cortical and subcortical areas. The most executive areas coincided with the motor areas that directly send output to M1 or the spinal cord or the areas associated with sensory feedback processing and somato-sensorimotor association.

However, some of the movement-predominant areas also showed imagery-related activity, supporting a functional gradation from imagery to movement. Many areas in the frontoparietal cortex and posterolateral cerebellum showed similar activity between the movement and imagery modes that share multiple components of the tasks. The areas most active with imagery (PcS/MFG, precuneus) may reflect a requirement of motor inhibition or attention to hand-centered space. The left frontoparietal areas correlated

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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