Lateralization of brain activity during lower limb joints movement. An fMRI study

Eleni Kapreli, Spyros Athanasopoulos, Matilda Papathanasiou, Paul Van Hecke, Nikolaos Strimpakos, Athanasios Gouliamos, Ronald Peeters, Stefan Sunaert

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Studies of unilateral finger movement in right-handed subjects have shown asymmetrical patterns of activation in primary motor cortex and subcortical regions. In order to investigate the existence of an analogous pattern during lower limb joints movements, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used. Eighteen healthy, right leg dominant volunteers participated in a motor block design study, performing unilateral right and left repetitive knee, ankle and toes flexion/extension movements. Aiming to relate lower limb joints activation to the well-described patterns of finger movement, serial finger-to-thumb opposition was also assessed. All movements were auditory paced at 72 beats/min (1.2 Hz). Brain activation during movement of the nondominant joints was more bilateral than during the same movement performed with the dominant joints. Finger movement had a stronger lateralized pattern of activation in comparison with lower limb joints, implying a different functional specialization. Differences were also evident between the joints of the lower limb. Ankle and toes movements elicited the same extend of MR signal change in the majority of the examined brain regions, whereas knee joint movement was associated with a different pattern. Finally, lateralization index in primary sensorimotor cortex and basal ganglia was significantly affected by the main effect of dominance, whereas the lateralization index in cerebellum was significantly affected by the joint main effect, demonstrating a lateralization index increase from proximal to distal joints. © 2006.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1709-1721
    Number of pages12
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006


    • Brain activation
    • Cerebellum
    • fMRI
    • Laterality
    • Lower limb
    • Primary sensorimotor cortex


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