Faculté des sciences

Task-dependent activation of distinct fast and slow(er) motor pathways during motor imagery

Keller, Martin ; Taube, Wolfgang ; Lauber, Benedikt

In: Brain Stimulation, 2018, p. -

Background: Motor imagery and actual movements share overlapping activation of brain areas but little is known about task-specific activation of distinct motor pathways during mental simulation of movements. For real contractions, it was demonstrated that the slow(er) motor pathways are activated differently in ballistic compared to tonic contractions but it is unknown if this also holds true... More

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    Summary
    Background: Motor imagery and actual movements share overlapping activation of brain areas but little is known about task-specific activation of distinct motor pathways during mental simulation of movements. For real contractions, it was demonstrated that the slow(er) motor pathways are activated differently in ballistic compared to tonic contractions but it is unknown if this also holds true for imagined contractions.Objective: The aim of the present study was to assess the activity of fast and slow(er) motor pathways during mentally simulated movements of ballistic and tonic contractions.Methods: H-reflexes were conditioned with transcranial magnetic stimulation at different interstimulus intervals to assess the excitability of fast and slow(er) motor pathways during a) the execution of tonic and ballistic contractions, b) motor imagery of these contraction types, and c) at rest.Results: In contrast to the fast motor pathways, the slow(er) pathways displayed a task-specific activation: for imagined ballistic as well as real ballistic contractions, the activation was reduced compared to rest whereas enhanced activation was found for imagined tonic and real tonic contractions.Conclusions: This study provides evidence that the excitability of fast and slow(er) motor pathways during motor imagery resembles the activation pattern observed during real contractions. The findings indicate that motor imagery results in task- and pathway-specific subliminal activation of distinct subsets of neurons in the primary motor cortex.