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Neurology. 2000 Oct 10;55(7):996-1002.

Motor imagery in normal subjects and in asymmetrical Parkinson's disease: a PET study.

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Department of Neurology and CERMEP, Neurological Hospital Pierre Wertheimer, Lyon, France.



To investigate, using PET and H2(15)O, brain activation abnormalities of patients with PD during motor imagery. To determine whether motor imagery activation patterns depend on the hand used to complete the task.


Previous work in PD has shown that bradykinesia is associated with slowness of motor imagery.


The PET study was performed in eight patients with PD with predominantly right-sided akinesia, and in eight age-matched control subjects, all right-handed. Regional cerebral blood flow was measured by PET and H2(15)O while subjects imagined a predetermined unimanual externally cued sequential movement with a joystick with either the left or the right hand, and during a rest condition.


In normal subjects, the prefrontal cortex, supplementary motor area (SMA), superior parietal lobe, inferior frontal gyrus, and cerebellum were activated during motor imagery with either the left or the right hand. Contralateral primary motor cortex activation was noted only when the task was imagined with the right (dominant) hand, whereas activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was observed only during imagery with the left hand. In patients with PD, motor imagery with the right ("akinetic") hand was characterized by lack of activation of the contralateral primary sensorimotor cortex and the cerebellum, persistent activation of the SMA, and bilateral activation of the superior parietal cortex. Motor imagery with the left ("non-akinetic") hand was also abnormal, with lack of activation of the SMA compared with controls.


In patients with PD with predominantly right-sided akinesia, brain activation during motor imagery is abnormal and may appear even with the less affected hand. In normal subjects, brain activation during motor imagery depends on the hand used in the imagined movement.

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