Brain activation associated with active and passive lower limb stepping

Jaeger, Lukas; Marchal Crespo, Laura; Wolf, Peter; Riener, Robert; Michels, Lars; Kollias, Spyros (2014). Brain activation associated with active and passive lower limb stepping. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 8, p. 828. Frontiers Research Foundation 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00828

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Reports about standardized and repeatable experimental procedures investigating supraspinal activation in patients with gait disorders are scarce in current neuro-imaging literature. Well-designed and executed tasks are important to gain insight into the effects of gait-rehabilitation on sensorimotor centers of the brain. The present study aims to demonstrate the feasibility of a novel imaging paradigm, combining the magnetic resonance (MR)-compatible stepping robot (MARCOS) with sparse sampling functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure task-related BOLD signal changes and to delineate the supraspinal contribution specific to active and passive stepping. Twenty-four healthy participants underwent fMRI during active and passive, periodic, bilateral, multi-joint, lower limb flexion and extension akin to human gait. Active and passive stepping engaged several cortical and subcortical areas of the sensorimotor network, with higher relative activation of those areas during active movement. Our results indicate that the combination of MARCOS and sparse sampling fMRI is feasible for the detection of lower limb motor related supraspinal activation. Activation of the anterior cingulate and medial frontal areas suggests motor response inhibition during passive movement in healthy participants. Our results are of relevance for understanding the neural mechanisms underlying gait in the healthy.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research > ARTORG Center - Gerontechnology and Rehabilitation

UniBE Contributor:

Marchal Crespo, Laura and Riener, Robert


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
600 Technology > 620 Engineering




Frontiers Research Foundation




Angela Amira Botros

Date Deposited:

19 Jun 2018 10:30

Last Modified:

24 Jun 2018 02:26

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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