Separating the Idea from the Action: A sLORETA Study
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Simple imaginary movements activate similar cortical and subcortical areas to actual movements, chiefly in the sensory-motor network. However, only a few studies also examined the imagery of more skilful movements such as reaching. Ten volunteers performed reaching movements or imagined the same movements. EEG was simultaneously recorded and analysed with sLORETA, which compared the preparation for actual and imagined reaching with respect to their baseline and between tasks. Major differences between them were found at three time intervals after target presentation, always in favour of the actual reaching condition. The first one was from 160 to 220 msec in the frontal and parietal regions. The second difference was evident from 220 to 320 msec in the premotor cortex. The third difference was evident from 320 msec, mainly in the perirolandic region. Also, the anterior and posterior cingulate cortices were widely involved, in both tasks. We suggest the existence of two separate systems which may work together during actual reaching programming. The first one involves structures such as the premotor cortex, supplementary motor area and primary motor cortex, together with the parietal and occipital cortex. This system may integrate extrinsic target coordinates with proprioceptive information from the reaching arm and pre-stored programs in the associative motor cortex. It is activated strongly and involves more cortical areas in actual than imagined reaching. The second system, common to both tasks, involves anterior and posterior cingulate cortices, with the possible role of contributing awareness and focusing the various components of the process.
KeywordsReaching Electroencephalography Standardized low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography Sensory-motor network Motor imagery
We wish to thank our engineer, Ignac Zidar, for his technical support. Authors are grateful to Dr. Katie Palmer for revision of linguistics.
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