The activity of the brain during observation or imagination of movements might facilitate the relearning of motor functions after stroke. The present study examines whether there is an additional effect of imagination over observation-only. Eight healthy subjects observed and observed-and-imagined a movement of a hand; 64-channel EEG was used to measure brain activity. The synchronization of the theta (4–8 Hz), alpha (8–13 Hz) and beta (13–25 Hz) frequency bands was calculated and plotted in topoplots. The temporal changes of the sensorimotor area (C3, C4) and the centro-parietal cortex (Pz) were analyzed in the two experimental conditions. During observation-and-imagination, a significant larger desynchronization (p = 0.004) in the sensorimotor area was found compared to observation-only in all electrodes and frequency bands. In addition, temporal differences were found between observation and observation-and-imagination in the alpha frequency bands. During observation-and-imagination, modulations of EEG rhythms were stronger than during observation-only in the theta, alpha and beta frequency bands and during almost the whole activity fragment. These findings suggest an additive effect of imagination to observation in the rehabilitation after stroke.
Berends, H. I., Wolkorte, R., IJzerman, M. J., & van Putten, M. J. A. M. (2013). Differential cortical activation during observation and observation-and-imagination. Experimental brain research, 229(3), 337-345. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-013-3571-8