Brain activity during visual versus kinesthetic imagery: An fMRI study

Authors

  • Aymeric Guillot,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center of Research and Innovation in Sport, Mental Processes and Motor Performance, University Claude Bernard Lyon I, University of Lyon, Villeurbanne, France
    2. Regenerative Medicine and Nanomedicine Initiative Program, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada
    • Centre de Recherche et d'Innovation sur le Sport, Université Claude Bernard Lyon I, 27-29 Boulevard du 11 Novembre 1918, 69622 Villeurbanne Cedex, France
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  • Christian Collet,

    1. Center of Research and Innovation in Sport, Mental Processes and Motor Performance, University Claude Bernard Lyon I, University of Lyon, Villeurbanne, France
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  • Vo An Nguyen,

    1. Department of Psychology, Functional Neuroimaging Unit, University of Montreal Geriatric Institute, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Francine Malouin,

    1. Regenerative Medicine and Nanomedicine Initiative Program, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada
    2. Department of Rehabilitation, Laval University and Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and Social Integration, Quebec City, Canada
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  • Carol Richards,

    1. Regenerative Medicine and Nanomedicine Initiative Program, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada
    2. Department of Rehabilitation, Laval University and Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and Social Integration, Quebec City, Canada
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  • Julien Doyon

    1. Regenerative Medicine and Nanomedicine Initiative Program, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada
    2. Department of Psychology, Functional Neuroimaging Unit, University of Montreal Geriatric Institute, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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Abstract

Although there is ample evidence that motor imagery activates similar cerebral regions to those solicited during actual movements, it is still unknown whether visual (VI) and kinesthetic imagery (KI) recruit comparable or distinct neural networks. The present study was thus designed to identify, through functional magnetic resonance imaging at 3.0 Tesla in 13 skilled imagers, the cerebral structures implicated in VI and KI. Participants were scanned in a perceptual control condition and while physically executing or focusing during motor imagery on either the visual or kinesthetic components of an explicitly known sequence of finger movements. Subjects' imagery abilities were assessed using well-established psychological, chronometric, and new physiological measures from the autonomic nervous system. Compared with the perceptual condition, physical executing, VI, and KI resulted in overlapping (albeit non-identical) brain activations, including motor-related regions and the inferior and superior parietal lobules. By contrast, a divergent pattern of increased activity was observed when VI and KI were compared directly: VI activated predominantly the occipital regions and the superior parietal lobules, whereas KI yielded more activity in motor-associated structures and the inferior parietal lobule. These results suggest that VI and KI are mediated through separate neural systems, which contribute differently during processes of motor learning and neurological rehabilitation. Hum Brain Mapp, 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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