Author(s): Alkadhi H, Brugger P, Boendermaker SH, Crelier G, Curt A,
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Abstract Brain activation during motor imagery has been the subject of a large number of studies in healthy subjects, leading to divergent interpretations with respect to the role of descending pathways and kinesthetic feedback on the mental rehearsal of movements. We investigated patients with complete spinal cord injury (SCI) to find out how the complete disruption of motor efferents and sensory afferents influences brain activation during motor imagery of the disconnected feet. Eight SCI patients underwent behavioral assessment and functional magnetic resonance imaging. When compared to a healthy population, stronger activity was detected in primary and all non-primary motor cortical areas and subcortical regions. In paraplegic patients the primary motor cortex was consistently activated, even to the same degree as during movement execution in the controls. Motor imagery in SCI patients activated in parallel both the motor execution and motor imagery networks of healthy subjects. In paraplegics the extent of activation in the primary motor cortex and in mesial non-primary motor areas was significantly correlated with the vividness of movement imagery, as assessed by an interview. The present findings provide new insights on the neuroanatomy of motor imagery and the possible role of kinesthetic feedback in the suppression of cortical motor output required during covert movements.
This article was published in Cereb Cortex
and referenced in Journal of Spine