Spatial constraints and cognitive fatigue affect motor imagery of walking in people with multiple sclerosis

Jessica Podda, Ludovico Pedullà, Margherita Monti Bragadin, Elisa Piccardo, Mario Alberto Battaglia, Giampaolo Brichetto, Marco Bove, Andrea Tacchino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Motor imagery (MI) is the mental simulation of an action without any overt motor execution. Interestingly, a temporal coupling between durations of real and imagined movements, i.e., the so-called isochrony principle, has been demonstrated in healthy adults. On the contrary, anisochrony has frequently been reported in elderly subjects or those with neurological disease such as Parkinson disease or multiple sclerosis (MS). Here, we tested whether people with MS (PwMS) may have impaired MI when they imagined themselves walking on paths with different widths. When required to mentally simulate a walking movement along a constrained pathway, PwMS tended to overestimate mental movement duration with respect to actual movement duration. Interestingly, in line with previous evidence, cognitive fatigue was found to play a role in the MI of PwMS. These results suggest that investigating the relationship between cognitive fatigue and MI performances could be key to shedding new light on the motor representation of PwMS and providing critical insights into effective and tailored rehabilitative treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21938
Number of pages1
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 14 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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