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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2008 Aug;115(8):1149-58. doi: 10.1007/s00702-008-0058-z. Epub 2008 May 28.

Cortical control of gait in healthy humans: an fMRI study.

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Department of Neurology, Cardinal Tien Hospital Yung-Ho Branch, Taipei, Taiwan.


This study examined the cortical control of gait in healthy humans using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Two block-designed fMRI sessions were conducted during motor imagery of a locomotor-related task. Subjects watched a video clip that showed an actor standing and walking in an egocentric perspective. In a control session, additional fMRI images were collected when participants observed a video clip of the clutch movement of a right hand. In keeping with previous studies using SPECT and NIRS, we detected activation in many motor-related areas including supplementary motor area, bilateral precentral gyrus, left dorsal premotor cortex, and cingulate motor area. Smaller additional activations were observed in the bilateral precuneus, left thalamus, and part of right putamen. Based on these findings, we propose a novel paradigm to study the cortical control of gait in healthy humans using fMRI. Specifically, the task used in this study--involving both mirror neurons and mental imagery--provides a new feasible model to be used in functional neuroimaging studies in this area of research.

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