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Szameitat, André J.; McNamara, Adam; Shen, Shan; Sterr, Annette (2012): Neural activation and functional connectivity during motor imagery of bimanual everyday actions.
In: PloS one 7(6), e38506
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Abstract

Bimanual actions impose intermanual coordination demands not present during unimanual actions. We investigated the functional neuroanatomical correlates of these coordination demands in motor imagery (MI) of everyday actions using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). For this, 17 participants imagined unimanual actions with the left and right hand as well as bimanual actions while undergoing fMRI. A univariate fMRI analysis showed no reliable cortical activations specific to bimanual MI, indicating that intermanual coordination demands in MI are not associated with increased neural processing. A functional connectivity analysis based on psychophysiological interactions (PPI), however, revealed marked increases in connectivity between parietal and premotor areas within and between hemispheres. We conclude that in MI of everyday actions intermanual coordination demands are primarily met by changes in connectivity between areas and only moderately, if at all, by changes in the amount of neural activity. These results are the first characterization of the neuroanatomical correlates of bimanual coordination demands in MI. Our findings support the assumed equivalence of overt and imagined actions and highlight the differences between uni- and bimanual actions. The findings extent our understanding of the motor system and may aid the development of clinical neurorehabilitation approaches based on mental practice.