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Publisher: The American Physiological Society
Languages: English
Types: Article
Imagined movements are thought to simulate physical ones, with similar behavioral constraints and neurophysiological activation patterns and with an inhibition mechanism that suppresses movement execution. When upper body movements such as reaching with the arm are made from an upright stance, lower body and trunk muscles are also activated to maintain body posture. It is not clear to what extent parameters of imagined manual movements are sensitive to the postural adjustments their execution would necessitate, nor whether such postural responses are as effectively inhibited as the imagined movements themselves. We asked healthy young participants to imagine reaching movements of the arm while in upright stance, and we measured their self-reported movement times and postural sway during imagined movements. We manipulated mediolateral stance stability and the direction of arm movement (mediolateral or anteroposterior). Imagined arm movements were reportedly slower when subjects were standing in a mediolaterally less stable stance, and the body swayed more when arm movements were imagined in the direction of postural vulnerability. The results suggest that the postural state of the whole body, not just the involved limbs, informs trajectory planning during motor imagery and that measurable adjustments to body posture accompany imagined manual actions. It has been suggested that movement is suppressed during motor imagery by a premotor inhibitory mechanism operating at brain stem or spinal level. Any such inhibition must be incomplete because, for example, it does not eliminate autonomic arousal. Our results suggest that it also does not effectively suppress postural adjustments planned in support of imagined movements.
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