Prefrontal cortex as a compensatory network in ataxic gait: A correlation study between cortical activity and gait parameters

Pietro Caliandro, Mariano Serrao, Luca Padua, Gabriella Silvestri, Chiara Iacovelli, Chiara Simbolotti, Silvia Mari, Giuseppe Reale, Carlo Casali, Paolo M. Rossini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To investigate whether prefrontal cortex (PFC) functioning during ataxic gait is linked to compensatory mechanisms or to the typical intra-subject variability of the ataxic gait. Methods: Nineteen patients with chronic ataxia and fifteen healthy subjects were evaluated. The subjects were requested to walk along a straight distance of 10 meters while PFC oxygenation and gait parameters were assessed. PFC activity was evaluated by NIRO-200 while gait analysis was performed by the SMART-D500. To investigate the intra-subject variability of gait, we calculated the coefficient of multiple correlation (CMC) of the hip, knee and ankle kinematic waveforms furthermore, we evaluated the step width. Results: We observed a positive correlation between PFC bilateral oxygenation changes and the step width (r = 0.54; p = 0.02 for the right PFC, and r = 0.50; p = 0.03 for the left PFC). No correlation was found between PFC activity and CMC of the hip, knee and ankle waveforms. Conclusions: Our results suggest that PFC activity is linked to gait compensatory mechanisms more than to the variability of the joint kinematic parameters caused by a defective cerebellar control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-187
Number of pages11
JournalRestorative Neurology and Neuroscience
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • ataxia
  • balance
  • gait
  • near-infrared spectroscopy
  • NIRS
  • Prefrontal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Medicine(all)


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