Enhanced activation of motor execution networks using action observation combined with imagination of lower limb movements

Villiger, Michael and Estévez, Natalia and Hepp-Reymond, Marie-Claude and Kiper, Daniel and Kollias, Spyros and Eng, Kynan and Hotz-Boendermaker, Sabina (2013) Enhanced activation of motor execution networks using action observation combined with imagination of lower limb movements. PloS one, 8 (8). e72403. ISSN 1932-6203

[img] Text
Villiger_et_al_2013_PLOS_Enhanced Activation of Motor Execution Networks Using Action Observation Combined with Imagination of Lower Limb Movements.pdf

Download (822kB)


The combination of first-person observation and motor imagery, i.e. first-person observation of limbs with online motor imagination, is commonly used in interactive 3D computer gaming and in some movie scenes. These scenarios are designed to induce a cognitive process in which a subject imagines himself/herself acting as the agent in the displayed movement situation. Despite the ubiquity of this type of interaction and its therapeutic potential, its relationship to passive observation and imitation during observation has not been directly studied using an interactive paradigm. In the present study we show activation resulting from observation, coupled with online imagination and with online imitation of a goal-directed lower limb movement using functional MRI (fMRI) in a mixed block/event-related design. Healthy volunteers viewed a video (firstperson perspective) of a foot kicking a ball. They were instructed to observe-only the action (O), observe and simultaneously imagine performing the action (O-MI), or imitate the action (O-IMIT). We found that when O-MI was compared to O, activation was enhanced in the ventralpremotor cortex bilaterally, left inferior parietal lobule and left insula. The O-MI and O-IMIT conditions shared many activation foci in motor relevant areas as confirmed by conjunction analysis. These results show that (i) combining observation with motor imagery (O-MI) enhances activation compared to observation-only (O) in the relevant foot motor network and in regions responsible for attention, for control of goal-directed movements and for the awareness of causing an action, and (ii) it is possible to extensively activate the motor execution network using O-MI, even in the absence of overt movement. Our results may have implications for the development of novel virtual reality interactions for neurorehabilitation interventions and other applications involving training of motor tasks.

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item