Content » Vol 46, Issue 9

Original report

Motor imagery during movement activates the brain more than movement alone after stroke: A pilot study

Lucy Dodakian, Jill Campbell Stewart, Steven C. Cramer
Departments of Neurology and Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of California, Irvine, USA
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-1844


Objective: To examine the neural correlates of motor imagery performed in conjunction with movement of the paretic arm after stroke.
Design: Cross-sectional, cohort study.
Subjects: Seven individuals in the chronic phase of stroke recovery (median (range): age: 58 years (37–73); time post-stroke: 9 months (4–42); upper extremity Fugl-Meyer motor score: 48 (36–64)).
Methods: Participants actively moved the paretic/right arm under two conditions while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging. In the motor condition, pronation/supination movements were made in response to a visual cue. In the motor + imagery condition, the same movements were performed in response to a visual cue but the participants were instructed to imagine opening and closing a doorknob during performance of the movement.
Results: For the motor condition, the anticipated motor network was activated and included left sensorimotor cortex and right cerebellum. For performance of the same movements during the motor + imagery condition, additional brain regions were significantly engaged including the left inferior parietal lobule and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
Conclusions: The addition of motor imagery to movement may provide a practical, accessible way to modulate activity in both the planning and execution components of the motor network after stroke.

Lay Abstract


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