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Neuroimage. 2006 Sep;32(3):1441-9. Epub 2006 Jul 24.

Motor imagery of walking following training in locomotor attention. The effect of "the tango lesson".

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  • 1Center for Cognitive Science and Department of Psychology, University of Turin, via Po 12, 10123 Turin, Italy. sacco@psych.unito.it

Abstract

The hypothesis of this study is that focusing attention on walking motor schemes could modify sensorimotor activation of the brain. Indeed, gait is a learned automated process, mostly regulated by subcortical and spinal structures. We examined the functional changes in the activity of the cerebral areas involved in locomotor imagery tasks, before and after one week of training consisting of physical and mental practice. The aim of the training was to focus the subject's conscious attention on the movements involved in walking. In our training, subjects were asked to perform basic tango steps, which require specific ways of walking; each tango lesson ended with motor imagery training of the performed steps. The results show that training determines an expansion of active bilateral motor areas during locomotor imagery. This finding, together with a reduction of visuospatial activation in the posterior right brain, suggests a decreased role of visual imagery processes in the post-training period in favor of motor-kinesthetic ones.

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