Activation of the Parieto-Premotor Network Is Associated with Vivid Motor Imagery—A Parametric fMRI Study

Institute for Sports Science, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Giessen, Germany.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 05/2011; 6(5):e20368. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020368
Source: PubMed


The present study examined the neural basis of vivid motor imagery with parametrical functional magnetic resonance imaging. 22 participants performed motor imagery (MI) of six different right-hand movements that differed in terms of pointing accuracy needs and object involvement, i.e., either none, two big or two small squares had to be pointed at in alternation either with or without an object grasped with the fingers. After each imagery trial, they rated the perceived vividness of motor imagery on a 7-point scale. Results showed that increased perceived imagery vividness was parametrically associated with increasing neural activation within the left putamen, the left premotor cortex (PMC), the posterior parietal cortex of the left hemisphere, the left primary motor cortex, the left somatosensory cortex, and the left cerebellum. Within the right hemisphere, activation was found within the right cerebellum, the right putamen, and the right PMC. It is concluded that the perceived vividness of MI is parametrically associated with neural activity within sensorimotor areas. The results corroborate the hypothesis that MI is an outcome of neural computations based on movement representations located within motor areas.

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    • "Such a similar relationship has been demonstrated for fMRI data. (Lorey and colleagues, 2011) showed that the perceived vividness of motor imagery is parametrically associated with neural activity within motor and sensorimotor areas. Despite this relationship, it is difficult to assume a causal link between neural activation and the subjective measurements. "
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    ABSTRACT: Research on motor imagery and action observation has become increasingly important in recent years particularly because of its potential benefits for movement rehabilitation and the optimization of athletic performance (Munzert et al., 2009). Motor execution, motor imagery, and action observation have been shown to rely largely on a similar neural network in motor and motor-related cortical areas (Jeannerod, 2001). Given that motor imagery is a covert stage of an action and its characteristics, it has been assumed that modifying the motor task in terms of, for example, effort will impact neural activity. With this background, the present study examined how different force requirements influence corticospinal excitability and intracortical facilitation during motor imagery and action observation of a repetitive movement (dynamic force production). Participants were instructed to kinesthetically imagine or observe an abduction/adduction movement of the right index finger that differed in terms of force requirements. Trials were carried out with single- or paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation. Surface electromyography was recorded from the first dorsal interosseous (FDI) and the abductor digiti minimi (ADM). As expected, results showed a significant main effect on mean peak-to-peak motor-evoked potential (MEP) amplitudes in FDI but no differences in MEP amplitudes in ADM muscle. Participants’ mean peak-to-peak MEPs increased when the force requirements (movement effort) of the imagined or observed action were increased. This reveals an impact of the imagined and observed force requirements of repetitive movements on corticospinal excitability. It is concluded that this effect might be due to stronger motor neuron recruitment for motor imagery and action observation with an additional load. That would imply that the modification of motor parameters in movements such as force requirements modulates corticospinal excitability.
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    • "MI ability is a factor that affects the excitability of spinal motor neurons. Lorey et al.25) studied the relationship between activation of the cerebral cortex during MI and the vividness of MI by fMRI. The M1, pM, S1, inferior parietal lobe (IPL) and superior parietal lobe (SPL), putamen, and Cb showed activation during MI. "
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    • "Another study, by Munroe et al. (2000), showed that subject-dependent variables such as the ability to create vivid mental images also had effects on MI performance. This was also demonstrated by Lorey et al. (2011) in an fMRI study, who found increased perceived imagery vividness associated with increasing neural activity within the left putamen, the left PMC, the left parietal, primary and somatosensory motor cortex and the cerebellum. They found that increased vividness of movement imagery is strongly associated with neural activity in motor related areas. "
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