Diminished motor imagery capability in adults with motor impairment: An fMRI mental rotation study

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Abstract

Recent research has demonstrated that adults with probable Developmental Coordination Disorder (pDCD) show similar behavioural deficits as those observed in children DCD when performing a motor imagery task. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the pattern of neural activation in adults with pDCD during motor imagery differed from adults without motor skill impairment. Twelve adults with pDCD (5 male; age M = 24.5 yrs) and 11 adults without pDCD (6 male; age M = 26.7 yrs) participated. The hand rotation task was used to assess motor imagery ability, while functional neural images were acquired using a 3 T MR scanner. Performance on the hand task in both groups conformed to the biomechanical constraints of real movement, supporting the use of motor imagery to complete the task. Comparisons of response time and accuracy data showed no significant group differences. Comparison of the BOLD signal activation maps identified a significant parametric difference between groups. The% BOLD signal change for increasing angle of rotation showed greater activation in controls compared to the pDCD group in the occipito-parietal and parieto-frontal networks including the middle frontal gyrus bilaterally, the left superior parietal lobe as well as in the cerebellum (lobule VI). The pattern of reduced activation in adults with pDCD is consistent with recent studies of childhood DCD that suggest atypical activation in frontal, parietal and cerebellar areas, and supports the theory that this type of impairment may be associated with disruption of parieto-frontal and parieto-cerebellar networks.

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