Gait-Related Brain Activation During Motor Imagery of Complex and Simple Ambulation in Parkinson's Disease With Freezing of Gait

Hui Chun Huang, Chun Ming Chen, Ming Kuei Lu, Bey Ling Liu, Chia Ing Li, Jui Cheng Chen, Guei Jane Wang, Hsiu Chen Lin, Jeng Ren Duann, Chon Haw Tsai

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10 Scopus citations


Background: Freezing of gait (FOG) in Parkinson's disease (PD) is a devastating clinical phenomenon that has a detrimental impact on patients. It tends to be triggered more often during turning (complex) than during forwarding straight (simple) walking. The neural mechanism underlying this phenomenon remains unclear and requires further elucidation. Objective: To investigate the differences in cerebral functional magnetic resonance imaging responses between PD patients with and without FOG during explicitly video-guided motor imagery (MI) of various complex (normal, freezing) and simple (normal, freezing) walking conditions. Methods: We recruited 34 PD patients, namely, 20 with FOG and 14 without FOG, and 15 normal controls. Participants underwent video-guided MI of turning and straight walking, with and without freezing, while their brain blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) activities were measured. Gait analysis was performed. Results: While comparing FOG turning with FOG straight walking, freezers showed higher activation of the superior occipital gyrus, left precentral gyrus, and right postcentral gyrus compared with non-freezers. Normal controls also manifest similar findings compared with non-freezers, except no difference was noted in occipital gyrus activity between the two groups. Freezers also displayed a higher effect size in the locomotor regions than non-freezers during imagery of normal turning. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that freezers require a higher drive of cortical and locomotion regions to overcome the overinhibition of the pathways in freezers than in non-freezers. Compared with simple walking, increased dorsal visual pathway and deep locomotion region activities might play pivotal roles in tackling FOG in freezers during complex walking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number731332
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
StatePublished - 22 Sep 2021


  • Parkinson's disease
  • freezing of gait
  • functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • gait disorders
  • motor imagery


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