Neural correlates of motor imagery for elite archers
ABSTRACT Motor imagery is a mental rehearsal of simple or complex motor acts without overt body movement. It has been proposed that the association between performance and the mental rehearsal period that precedes the voluntary movement is an important point of difference between highly trained athletes and beginners. We compared the activation maps of elite archers and nonarchers during mental rehearsal of archery to test whether the neural correlates of elite archers were more focused and efficiently organised than those of nonarchers. Brain activation was measured using functional MRI in 18 right-handed elite archers and 18 right-handed nonarchers. During the active functional MRI imagery task, the participants were instructed to mentally rehearse their archery shooting from a first-person perspective. The active imagery condition was tested against the nonmotor imagery task as a control condition. The results showed that the premotor and supplementary motor areas, and the inferior frontal region, basal ganglia and cerebellum, were active in nonarchers, whereas elite archers showed activation primarily in the supplementary motor areas. In particular, our result of higher cerebellar activity in nonarchers indicates the increased participation of the cerebellum in nonarchers when learning an unfamiliar archery task. Therefore, the difference in cerebellar activation between archers and nonarchers provides evidence of the expertise effect in the mental rehearsal of archery. In conclusion, the relative economy in the cortical processes of elite archers could contribute to greater consistency in performing the specific challenge in which they are highly practised.
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ABSTRACT: Motor imagery (MI - i.e., the mental representation of an action without physically executing it) stimulates brain motor networks and promotes motor learning after spinal cord injury (SCI). An interesting issue is whether the brain networks controlling MI are being reorganized with reference to spared motor functions. In this pilot study, we tested using magnetoencephalography (MEG) whether changes in cortical recruitment during MI were related to the motor changes elicited by rehabilitation. Over a 1-year period of inclusion, C6 SCI participants (n = 4) met stringent criteria for inclusion in a rehabilitation program focused on the tenodesis prehension (i.e., a compensatory prehension enabling seizing of objects in spite of hand and forearm muscles paralysis). After an extended baseline period of 5 weeks including repeated MEG and chronometric assessments of motor performance, MI training was embedded to the classical course of physiotherapy for five additional weeks. Posttest MEG and motor performance data were collected. A group of matched healthy control participants underwent a similar procedure. The MI intervention resulted in changes in the variability of the wrist extensions, i.e., a key movement of the tenodesis grasp (p < .05). Interestingly, the extent of cortical recruitment, quantified by the number of MEG activation sources recorded within Brodmann areas 1-8 during MI of the wrist extension, significantly predicted actual movement variability changes across sessions (p < .001). However, no such relationship was present for movement times. Repeated measurements afforded a reliable statistical power (range .70-.97). This pilot study does not provide straightforward evidence of MI efficacy, which would require a randomized controlled trial. Nonetheless, the data showed that the relationship between action and imagery of spared actions may be preserved after SCI.Experimental Brain Research 10/2014; 233(1). DOI:10.1007/s00221-014-4114-7 · 2.17 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Evidence from previous studies has suggested that motor imagery and motor action engage overlapping brain systems. As a result of this observation that motor imagery can activate brain regions associated with actual motor movement, motor imagery is expected to enhance motor skill performance and become an underlying principle for physical training in sports and physical rehabilitation. However, few studies have examined the effects of physical training on motor imagery in beginners. Also, differences in neural networks related to motor imagery before and after training have seldom been studied. In the current study, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we investigated the question of whether motor imagery can reflect plastic changes of neural correlates associated with intensive training. In fact, motor imagery was used in this study as a tool to assess the brain areas involved in shooting and involved in learning of shooting. We discovered that use of motor imagery resulted in recruitment of widely distributed common cortical areas, which were suggested to play a role in generation and maintenance of mental images before and after 90 h of shooting training. In addition to these common areas, brain activation before and after 90 h of shooting practice showed regionally distinct patterns of activity change in subcortical motor areas. That is, basal ganglia showed increased activity after 90 h of shooting practice, suggesting the occurrence of plastic change in association with gains in performance and reinforcement learning. Therefore, our results suggest that, in order to reach a level of expertise, the brain would change through initial reinforcement of preexistent connections during the training period and then use more focused neural correlates through formation of new connections.Behavioural brain research 06/2012; 234(1):26-32. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2012.06.001 · 3.39 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Traditionally, higher-level cognition has been described as including processes such as attention, memory, language, and decision-making. However, motor processing and motor imagery are important aspects of cognition that have typically been considered outside of the traditional view. Recent research has demonstrated that there may be a critical functional relationship between motor imagery and other higher-level cognitive processes. Here we present a review of the extant literature on motor imagery and cognition, as well as outline four hurdles that must be addressed before the field investigating the influence of motor-based processes on higher-level cognition can be moved forward. These hurdles include problems distinguishing between visual and motor processes, addressing the differences in tasks and stimuli used to evoke motor imagery, accounting for individual differences in motor imagery ability, and identifying the appropriate neural correlates. It is important that these hurdles are addressed in future research so we can sprint forward and further our knowledge about this interesting relationship.Cognitive Processing 03/2012; 13(3):211-29. DOI:10.1007/s10339-012-0438-z · 1.57 Impact Factor