Cortical activity during motor execution, motor imagery, and imagery-based online feedback

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Mar 2;107(9):4430-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0913697107. Epub 2010 Feb 16.

Abstract

Imagery of motor movement plays an important role in learning of complex motor skills, from learning to serve in tennis to perfecting a pirouette in ballet. What and where are the neural substrates that underlie motor imagery-based learning? We measured electrocorticographic cortical surface potentials in eight human subjects during overt action and kinesthetic imagery of the same movement, focusing on power in "high frequency" (76-100 Hz) and "low frequency" (8-32 Hz) ranges. We quantitatively establish that the spatial distribution of local neuronal population activity during motor imagery mimics the spatial distribution of activity during actual motor movement. By comparing responses to electrocortical stimulation with imagery-induced cortical surface activity, we demonstrate the role of primary motor areas in movement imagery. The magnitude of imagery-induced cortical activity change was approximately 25% of that associated with actual movement. However, when subjects learned to use this imagery to control a computer cursor in a simple feedback task, the imagery-induced activity change was significantly augmented, even exceeding that of overt movement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biofeedback, Psychology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Child
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrocardiography / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Young Adult