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Ipsilateral involvement of primary motor cortex during motor imagery


: Professor C. A. Porro, as above.


To investigate whether motor imagery involves ipsilateral cortical regions, we studied haemodynamic changes in portions of the motor cortex of 14 right-handed volunteers during actual motor performance (MP) and kinesthetic motor imagery (MI) of simple sequences of unilateral left or right finger movements, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Increases in mean normalized fMRI signal intensities over values obtained during the control (visual imagery) task were found during both MP and MI in the posterior part of the precentral gyrus and supplementary motor area, both on the contralateral and ipsilateral hemispheres. In the left lateral premotor cortex, fMRI signals were increased during imagery of either left or right finger movements. Ipsilateral cortical clusters displaying fMRI signal changes during both MP and MI were identified by correlation analyses in 10 out of 14 subjects; their extent was larger in the left hemisphere. A larger cortical population involved during both contralateral MP and MI was found in all subjects. The overall spatial extent of both the contralateral and the ipsilateral MP + MI clusters was ∼ 90% of the whole cortical volume activated during MP. These results suggest that overlapping neural networks in motor and premotor cortex of the contralateral and ipsilateral hemispheres are involved during imagery and execution of simple motor tasks.

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