, Volume 116, Issue 9, pp 1087-1092

Functional MRI in the assessment of cortical activation during gait-related imaginary tasks

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Imaginary tasks can be used to investigate the neurophysiology of gait. In this study, we explored the cortical control of gait-related imagery in 21 healthy volunteers using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Imaginary tasks included gait initiation, stepping over an obstacle, and gait termination. Subjects watched a video clip that showed an actor in gait motion under an event-related design. We detected activation in the supplementary motor area during major gait-related imagery tasks, and especially during gait initiation. During gait termination and stepping over an obstacle, the amount of cortical resources allocated to the imaginary tasks included a large visuomotor network comprising the dorsal and ventral premotor areas. We conclude that our paradigm to study the cortical control of gait may help in elucidating the pathophysiology of higher-level gait disorders.