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Front Hum Neurosci. 2017 Mar 6;11:106. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00106. eCollection 2017.

Brain Activity during Mental Imagery of Gait Versus Gait-Like Plantar Stimulation: A Novel Combined Functional MRI Paradigm to Better Understand Cerebral Gait Control.

Author information

1
Laboratoire Angevin de Recherche en Ingénierie des Systèmes, EA7315, University of Angers - Université Nantes Angers Le MansAngers, France; Department of Radiology, Angers University Hospital, University of Angers - Université Nantes Angers Le MansAngers, France.
2
Department of Neuroscience, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Memory Clinic - Angers University Hospital; UPRES EA 4638 - University of Angers, Université Nantes Angers Le MansAngers, France; Robarts Research Institute, Department of Medical Biophysics, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, LondonON, Canada.
3
Laboratoire de Biologie Neuro-Vasculaire et Mitochondriale Intégrée, UMR CNRS 6214 INSERM U1083, University of AngersAngers, France; Institute of Biomedical Problems, Russian Academy of SciencesMoscow, Russia.
4
Centre National des Etudes Spatiales Paris, France.
5
Laboratoire Angevin de Recherche en Ingénierie des Systèmes, EA7315, University of Angers - Université Nantes Angers Le MansAngers, France; Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Angers University Hospital - University of Angers, Université Nantes Angers Le MansAngers, France.
6
Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Sir Mortimer B. Davis - Jewish General Hospital and Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, McGill University, MontrealQC, Canada; Dr. Joseph Kaufmann Chair in Geriatric Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, MontrealQC, Canada.
7
Laboratoire de Biologie Neuro-Vasculaire et Mitochondriale Intégrée, UMR CNRS 6214 INSERM U1083, University of AngersAngers, France; Clinical Research Center, Angers University Hospital, University of Angers - Université Nantes Angers Le MansAngers, France.
8
Laboratoire Angevin de Recherche en Ingénierie des Systèmes, EA7315, University of Angers - Université Nantes Angers Le MansAngers, France; Department of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Angers University Hospital, University of Angers - Université Nantes Angers Le MansAngers, France.

Abstract

Human locomotion is a complex sensorimotor behavior whose central control remains difficult to explore using neuroimaging method due to technical constraints, notably the impossibility to walk with a scanner on the head and/or to walk for real inside current scanners. The aim of this functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) study was to analyze interactions between two paradigms to investigate the brain gait control network: (1) mental imagery of gait, and (2) passive mechanical stimulation of the plantar surface of the foot with the Korvit boots. The Korvit stimulator was used through two different modes, namely an organized ("gait like") sequence and a destructured (chaotic) pattern. Eighteen right-handed young healthy volunteers were recruited (mean age, 27 ± 4.7 years). Mental imagery activated a broad neuronal network including the supplementary motor area-proper (SMA-proper), pre-SMA, the dorsal premotor cortex, ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior insula, and precuneus/superior parietal areas. The mechanical plantar stimulation activated the primary sensorimotor cortex and secondary somatosensory cortex bilaterally. The paradigms generated statistically common areas of activity, notably bilateral SMA-proper and right pre-SMA, highlighting the potential key role of SMA in gait control. There was no difference between the organized and chaotic Korvit sequences, highlighting the difficulty of developing a walking-specific plantar stimulation paradigm. In conclusion, this combined-fMRI paradigm combining mental imagery and gait-like plantar stimulation provides complementary information regarding gait-related brain activity and appears useful for the assessment of high-level gait control.

KEYWORDS:

locomotion; mental imagery; sensorimotor cortex; supplementary motor area; walking

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