Functional MRI in the assessment of cortical activation during gait-related imaginary tasks

J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2009 Sep;116(9):1087-92. doi: 10.1007/s00702-009-0269-y. Epub 2009 Aug 11.


Imaginary tasks can be used to investigate the neurophysiology of gait. In this study, we explored the cortical control of gait-related imagery in 21 healthy volunteers using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Imaginary tasks included gait initiation, stepping over an obstacle, and gait termination. Subjects watched a video clip that showed an actor in gait motion under an event-related design. We detected activation in the supplementary motor area during major gait-related imagery tasks, and especially during gait initiation. During gait termination and stepping over an obstacle, the amount of cortical resources allocated to the imaginary tasks included a large visuomotor network comprising the dorsal and ventral premotor areas. We conclude that our paradigm to study the cortical control of gait may help in elucidating the pathophysiology of higher-level gait disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / blood supply*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen