A H2 15O positron emission tomography study on mental imagery of movement sequences - The effect of modulating sequence length and direction

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  • H. Boecker, Technische Universität München
  • ,
  • A. O. Ceballos-Baumann, Technische Universität München
  • ,
  • P. Bartenstein, Technische Universität München
  • ,
  • A. Dagher, Montreal Neurological Institute
  • ,
  • K. Forster, Technische Universität München
  • ,
  • B. Haslinger, Technische Universität München
  • ,
  • D. J. Brooks
  • M. Schwaiger, Technische Universität München
  • ,
  • B. Conrad, Technische Universität München

Motor imagery is a state of mental rehearsal of single movements or movement patterns and has been shown to recruit motor networks overlapping with those activated during movement execution. We wished to examine whether the brain areas subserving control of sequential processes could be delineated by pure mental imagery, their activation levels reflecting the processing demands of a sequential task. We studied six right-handed volunteers (39.0 ± 14 years) with H2 15O positron emission tomography (PET) while they continuously mentally pursued with their right hand one of five sequences differing in complexity (i.e., increases in sequence length, single-finger repetitions, and reversals). Conditions were repeated twice, alternating with two rest scans. Each imagined single motor element was paced at a frequency of 1 Hz. Significant activation increases (P < 0.05, corrected) associated with imagination of right finger movement sequences (conditions I to V combined) - compared to the rest condition - were observed in left sensorimotor cortex (M1/S1) and the adjacent inferior parietal cortex. Further activation increases (P < 0.001, uncorrected) occurred in bilateral dorsal premotor (PMd) cortex, left caudal supplementary motor area, bilateral ventral premotor cortex, right M1, left superior parietal cortex, left putamen, and right cerebellum. Activation decreases occurred in bilateral prefrontal and right temporo-occipital cortex. Activation increases that correlated with sequence complexity were observed only in specific areas of the activated network, notably in left PMd, right superior parietal cortex, and right cerebellar vermis (P < 0.05, corrected). In conclusion, our study, by varying the sequence structure of imagined finger movements, identified task-related activity changes in parietopremotor-cerebellar structures, reflecting their role in mediating sequence control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)999-1009
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Motor imagery, Parametric, PET, Premotor, rCBF, Sequential movement

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