Brain Activation of Elite Race Walkers in Action Observation

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Brain Activation of Elite Race Walkers in Action Observation, Motor Imagery, and Motor Execution Tasks: A Pilot Study.

Front Hum Neurosci. 2019;13:80

Authors: Zhang Q, Zhang P, Song L, Yang Y, Yuan S, Chen Y, Sun S, Bai X

Walking plays an important role in human daily life. Many previous studies suggested that long-term walking training can modulate brain functions. However, due to the use of measuring techniques such as fMRI and PET, which are highly motion-sensitive, it is difficult to record individual brain activities during the movement. This pilot study used functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to measure the hemodynamic responses in the frontal-parietal cortex of four elite race walkers (experimental group, EG) and twenty college students (control group, CG) during tasks involving action observation, motor imagery, and motor execution. The results showed that activation levels of the pars triangularis of the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), premotor and supplementary motor cortex (PMC and SMC), and primary somatosensory cortex (S1) in the EG were significantly lower than in the CG during motor execution and observation tasks. And primary motor cortex (M1) of EG in motor execution task was significantly lower than its in CG. During the motor imagery task, activation intensities of the DLPFC, PMC and SMC, and M1 in the EG were significantly higher than in the CG. These findings suggested that the results of motor execution and observation tasks might support the brain efficiency hypothesis, and the related brain regions strengthened the efficiency of neural function, but the results in motor imagery tasks could be attributed to the internal forward model of elite race walkers, which showed a trend opposed to the brain efficiency hypothesis. Additionally, the activation intensities of the pars triangularis and PMC and SMC decreased with the passage of time in the motor execution and imagery tasks, whereas during the action observation task, no significant differences in these regions were found. This reflected differences of the internal processing among the tasks.

PMID: 30881297 [PubMed]

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