Movement-related parameters modulate cortical activity during imaginary isometric plantar-flexions

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A multitude of studies have demonstrated a clear activation of the motor cortex during imagination of various motor tasks; however, it is still unclear if movement-related parameters (movement direction, range of motion, speed, force level and rate of force development) specifically modulate cortical activation as they do during the execution of actual motor tasks. Accordingly, this study examined whether the rate of torque development (RTD) and/or the torque amplitude modulates cortical potentials generated during imaginary motor tasks. Fifteen subjects imagined four different left-sided isometric plantar-flexion tasks, while EEG and EMG recordings were being performed. The averaged EEG activity was analyzed in terms of movement-related potentials (MRPs), consisting of readiness potential (RP), motor potential (MP) and movement-monitoring potential (MMP). It was demonstrated that RTD and torque amplitude indeed modulate cortical activity during imaginary motor tasks. Information concerning movement-related parameters for imaginary plantar-flexion tasks seems to be encoded in the supplementary motor area (SMA) and the primary motor cortex (M1). A comparison between MRPs of imaginary and actual motor tasks revealed that early MRPs were morphologically similar, but differed significantly in amplitude. One of the possible suggestions to explain such a difference may be an “abortion” of ongoing motor programs.

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