Using motor imagery to study the neural substrates of dynamic balance
Number of pages
SourcePLoS One, 9, 3, (2014), article e91183
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRadboudumc 3: Disorders of movement DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
This study examines the cerebral structures involved in dynamic balance using a motor imagery (MI) protocol. We recorded cerebral activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging while subjects imagined swaying on a balance board along the sagittal plane to point a laser at target pairs of different sizes (small, large). We used a matched visual imagery (VI) control task and recorded imagery durations during scanning. MI and VI durations were differentially influenced by the sway accuracy requirement, indicating that MI of balance is sensitive to the increased motor control necessary to point at a smaller target. Compared to VI, MI of dynamic balance recruited additional cortical and subcortical portions of the motor system, including frontal cortex, basal ganglia, cerebellum and mesencephalic locomotor region, the latter showing increased effective connectivity with the supplementary motor area. The regions involved in MI of dynamic balance were spatially distinct but contiguous to those involved in MI of gait (Bakker et al., 2008; Snijders et al., 2011; Cremers et al., 2012), in a pattern consistent with existing somatotopic maps of the trunk (for balance) and legs (for gait). These findings validate a novel, quantitative approach for studying the neural control of balance in humans. This approach extends previous reports on MI of static stance (Jahn et al., 2004, 2008), and opens the way for studying gait and balance impairments in patients with neurodegenerative disorders.
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