[en] OBJECTIVES: Brisk walking, a sensitive test to evaluate gait capacity in normal and pathological aging such as parkinsonism, is used as an alternative to classical fitness program for motor rehabilitation and may help to decrease the risk of cognitive deterioration observed with aging. In this study, we aimed to identify brain areas normally involved in its control. METHODS: We conducted a block-design blood oxygen level dependent function magnetic resonance imaging (BOLD fMRI) experiment in 18 young healthy individuals trained to imagine themselves in three main situations: brisk walking in a 25-m-long corridor, standing or lying. Imagined walking time (IWT) was measured as a control of behavioral performance during fMRI. RESULTS: The group mean IWT was not significantly different from the actual walking time measured during a training session prior to the fMRI study. Compared with other experimental conditions, mental imagery (MI) of brisk walking was associated with stronger activity in frontal and parietal regions mainly on the right, and cerebellar hemispheres, mainly on the left. Presumed imagined walking speed (2.3 +/- 0.4 m/s) was positively correlated with activity levels in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and posterior parietal lobule along with the vermis and the left cerebellar hemisphere. INTERPRETATIONS: A new finding in this study is that MI of brisk walking in young healthy individuals strongly involves processes lateralized in right fronto-parietal regions along with left cerebellum. These results show that brisk walking might be a non automatic locomotor activity requiring a high-level supraspinal control. Hum Brain Mapp, 2011. (c) 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Centre de Recherches du Cyclotron - CRC
Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Communauté française de Belgique) - F.R.S.-FNRS