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Cortical activation during executed, imagined, and observed foot movements.


Evidence suggests that executed, imagined, and observed movements share neural substrates, however, brain activation during the performance of these three tasks has not yet been examined during lower extremity movements. Functional MRI was performed in 10 healthy right-footed participants during imagined, executed, and observed right ankle movements. Task compliance was high, confirmed via behavioral assessment and electromyographic measurements. Each task was also associated with its own profile of regional activation, however, overall, regional activation showed substantial overlap across the three lower extremity motor tasks. The findings suggest the utility of continued efforts to develop motor imagery and observation programs for improving lower extremity function in a range of clinical settings.

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