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Most studies of motor imagery have examined motor cortex function during imagery of dominant hand movement. The aim of this study was to examine the modulation of excitability in the dominant and non-dominant corticomotor pathways during kinesthetic motor imagery of unimanual and bimanual movement. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was applied over the contralateral motor cortex (M1) to elicit motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) in the abductor pollicis brevis (APB) and abductor digiti minimi (ADM) muscles of each hand, in two separate sessions. Transcutaneous electrical stimuli were also delivered to the median nerve at each wrist, to elicit F-waves from APB. Fifteen right-handed volunteers imagined unimanual and bimanual phasic thumb movements, paced with a 1-Hz auditory metronome. Stimuli were delivered at rest, and either 50 ms before (ON phase), or 450 ms after (OFF phase), the metronome beeps. Significant MEP amplitude facilitation occurred only in right APB, during the ON phase of motor imagery of the right hand and both hands. Significant temporal modulation of right APB MEP amplitude was observed during motor imagery of right, left and bimanual performance. F-wave persistence and amplitude were unaffected by imagery. These results demonstrate that the motor imagery is lateralized to the left (dominant) hemisphere, which is engaged by imagery of each hand separately, and bimanual imagery. This finding has implications for the use of motor imagery in rehabilitation.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Res

Publication Date





139 - 147


Adult, Analysis of Variance, Electromyography, Evoked Potentials, Motor, Female, Functional Laterality, Hand, Humans, Imagery (Psychotherapy), Male, Middle Aged, Motor Cortex, Movement, Psychomotor Performance, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation