Influence of the visuo-proprioceptive illusion of movement and motor imagery of the wrist on EEG cortical excitability among healthy participants

PLoS One. 2021 Sep 2;16(9):e0256723. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0256723. eCollection 2021.


Introduction: Motor Imagery (MI) is a powerful tool to stimulate sensorimotor brain areas and is currently used in motor rehabilitation after a stroke. The aim of our study was to evaluate whether an illusion of movement induced by visuo-proprioceptive immersion (VPI) including tendon vibration (TV) and Virtual moving hand (VR) combined with MI tasks could be more efficient than VPI alone or MI alone on cortical excitability assessed using Electroencephalography (EEG).

Methods: We recorded EEG signals in 20 healthy participants in 3 different conditions: MI tasks involving their non-dominant wrist (MI condition); VPI condition; and VPI with MI tasks (combined condition). Each condition lasted 3 minutes, and was repeated 3 times in randomized order. Our main judgment criterion was the Event-Related De-synchronization (ERD) threshold in sensori-motor areas in each condition in the brain motor area.

Results: The combined condition induced a greater change in the ERD percentage than the MI condition alone, but no significant difference was found between the combined and the VPI condition (p = 0.07) and between the VPI and MI condition (p = 0.20).

Conclusion: This study demonstrated the interest of using a visuo-proprioceptive immersion with MI rather than MI alone in order to increase excitability in motor areas of the brain. Further studies could test this hypothesis among patients with stroke to provide new perspectives for motor rehabilitation in this population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces
  • Cortical Excitability / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Feedback, Sensory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hand / innervation
  • Hand / physiology
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Imagery, Psychotherapy / methods
  • Imagination / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Sensorimotor Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Sensorimotor Cortex / physiology*
  • Wrist Joint / innervation
  • Wrist Joint / physiology

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this study.