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Activation of the parieto-premotor network is associated with vivid motor imagery--a parametric FMRI study.

ABSTRACT

The present study examined the neural basis of vivid motor imagery with parametrical functional magnetic resonance imaging. 22 participants performed motor imagery (MI) of six different right-hand movements that differed in terms of pointing accuracy needs and object involvement, i.e., either none, two big or two small squares had to be pointed at in alternation either with or without an object grasped with the fingers. After each imagery trial, they rated the perceived vividness of motor imagery on a 7-point scale. Results showed that increased perceived imagery vividness was parametrically associated with increasing neural activation within the left putamen, the left premotor cortex (PMC), the posterior parietal cortex of the left hemisphere, the left primary motor cortex, the left somatosensory cortex, and the left cerebellum. Within the right hemisphere, activation was found within the right cerebellum, the right putamen, and the right PMC. It is concluded that the perceived vividness of MI is parametrically associated with neural activity within sensorimotor areas. The results corroborate the hypothesis that MI is an outcome of neural computations based on movement representations located within motor areas.