Do imagined and executed actions share the same neural substrate?

Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 1996 Mar;3(2):87-93. doi: 10.1016/0926-6410(95)00033-x.


This paper addresses the issue of the functional correlates of motor imagery, using mental chronometry, monitoring the autonomic responses and measuring cerebral blood flow in humans. The timing of mentally simulated actions closely mimic actual movement times. Autonomic responses during motor imagery parallel the autonomic responses to actual exercise. Cerebral blood flow increases are observed in the motor cortices involved in the programming of actual movement (i.e. premotor cortex, anterior cingulate, inferior parietal lobule and cerebellum). These three sources of data provide converging support for the hypothesis that imagined and executed actions share, to some extent, the same central structures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Chronobiology Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*