Neural substrates for motor imagery in severe hemiparesis

Teresa J Kimberley, PT,, Gauri Khandekar, Laura L. Skraba, Jessica A. Spencer, Emily A. Van Gorp, Sarah R. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Background. The beneficial effects of imagined movements on motor learning and performance suggest that motor imagery is functionally close to preparatory and executive motor processes. Objective. The purpose of this study was to examine the cortical processes associated with imagery of movement of the wrist in subjects with severe hemiparesis. Methods. During fMRI, subjects with stroke performed alternating blocks of imagining wrist-tracking movements with the hemiparetic hand, active wrist-tracking movements with the unaffected hand, and resting. Control subjects performed the same tasks using an assigned hand. Cortical activation in the primary motor (M1), primary sensory (S1), supplementary motor area (SMA), and pre-SMA regions was determined through a laterality index of active voxels and signal intensity. Ability to imagine was assessed with an Imagery Rating Scale. Results. All subjects displayed primarily contralateral control during the track condition. Healthy subjects demonstrated contralateral control in all areas during the imagine condition, whereas subjects with stroke displayed primarily contralateral activation in S1 but ipsilateral in M1 and SMA. The percentage change in signal intensity was greater in the ipsilateral hemisphere in subjects with stroke than in the ipsilateral hemisphere in healthy subjects during the imagine condition. Additionally, subjects with self-reported low ability to imagine displayed no difference in activation compared to those with high imagery ability. Conclusions. These findings are consistent with other works demonstrating primarily ipsilateral control of the hemiparetic hand in subjects with functional movement and lay the groundwork for further investigation into the ability of mental imagery to affect functionally relevant cortical control in subjects recovering from stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-277
Number of pages10
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Hemiparesis
  • Imagery
  • Neuroimaging
  • Stroke Tracking
  • fMRI


Dive into the research topics of 'Neural substrates for motor imagery in severe hemiparesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this