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Brain Activation in Primary Motor and Somatosensory Cortices during Motor Imagery Correlates with Motor Imagery Ability in Stroke Patients.

ABSTRACT

Aims. While studies on healthy subjects have shown a partial overlap between the motor execution and motor imagery neural circuits, few have investigated brain activity during motor imagery in stroke patients with hemiparesis. This work is aimed at examining similarities between motor imagery and execution in a group of stroke patients. Materials and Methods. Eleven patients were asked to perform a visuomotor tracking task by either physically or mentally tracking a sine wave force target using their thumb and index finger during fMRI scanning. MIQ-RS questionnaire has been administered. Results and Conclusion. Whole-brain analyses confirmed shared neural substrates between motor imagery and motor execution in bilateral premotor cortex, SMA, and in the contralesional inferior parietal lobule. Additional region of interest-based analyses revealed a negative correlation between kinaesthetic imagery ability and percentage BOLD change in areas 4p and 3a; higher imagery ability was associated with negative and lower percentage BOLD change in primary sensorimotor areas during motor imagery.