Imagining is not doing but involves specific motor commands: A review of experimental data related to motor inhibition

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
fnhum-06-00247.pdf921.47 kBAdobe PDFDownload
Title: Imagining is not doing but involves specific motor commands: A review of experimental data related to motor inhibition
Authors: Guillot, Aymeric
Di Rienzo, Franck
MacIntyre, Tadhg
Moran, Aidan P.
Collet, Christian
Permanent link:
Date: Sep-2012
Abstract: There is now compelling evidence that motor imagery (MI) and actual movement share common neural substrate. However, the question of how MI inhibits the transmission of motor commands into the efferent pathways in order to prevent any movement is largely unresolved. Similarly, little is known about the nature of the electromyographic activity that is apparent during MI. In addressing these gaps in the literature, the present paper argues that MI includes motor execution commands for muscle contractions which are blocked at some level of the motor system by inhibitory mechanisms. We first assemble data from neuroimaging studies that demonstrate that the neural networks mediating MI and motor performance are not totally overlapping, thereby highlighting potential differences between MI and actual motor execution. We then review MI data indicating the presence of subliminal muscular activity reflecting the intrinsic characteristics of the motor command as well as increased corticomotor excitability. The third section not only considers the inhibitory mechanisms involved during MI but also examines how the brain resolves the problem of issuing the motor command for action while supervising motor inhibition when people engage in voluntary movement during MI. The last part of the paper draws on imagery research in clinical contexts to suggest that some patients move while imagining an action, although they are not aware of such movements. In particular, experimental data from amputees as well as from patients with Parkinson’s disease are discussed. We also review recent studies based on comparing brain activity in tetraplegic patients with that from healthy matched controls that provide insights into inhibitory processes during MI. We conclude by arguing that based on available evidence, a multifactorial explanation of motor inhibition during MI is warranted.
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation
Journal: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Volume: 6
Issue: Article 247
End page: 2
Copyright (published version): 2012 Authors
Keywords: Motor imageryMotor command inhibitionMotor performanceMental processesElectromyographySensorimotor control
Subject LCSH: Movement, Psychology of
Motor ability
Cognitive psychology
DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00247
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed 2012-11-07T17:17:49Z
Appears in Collections:Psychology Research Collection

Show full item record

Citations 5

Last Week
Last month
checked on Dec 12, 2018

Google ScholarTM



This item is available under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland. No item may be reproduced for commercial purposes. For other possible restrictions on use please refer to the publisher's URL where this is made available, or to notes contained in the item itself. Other terms may apply.