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A novel technique for examining human brain activity associated with pedaling using fMRI. J Neurosci Methods 2009 May 15;179(2):230-9



Pubmed ID





Advances in neural imaging technologies, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), have made it possible to obtain images of human brain activity during motor tasks. However, technical challenges have made it difficult to image the brain during multijoint lower limb movements like those involved in locomotion. We developed an MR compatible pedaling device and recorded human brain activity associated with rhythmic, alternating flexion and extension of the lower extremities. Ten volunteers pedaled at 30 RPM while recording fMRI signals in a GE 3T short bore MR scanner. We utilized a block design consisting of 3 runs of pedaling, each lasting 4 min. In a single run, subjects pedaled for 30 s and then rested for 30 s. This sequence was repeated 4 times. Conventional fMRI processing techniques, that correlate the entire BOLD signal with standard model, did not extract physiologically meaningful signal, likely due to magnetic field distortion caused by leg movement. Hence, we examined only the portion of the blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) signal during movement-free periods. This technique takes advantage of the delayed nature of the BOLD signal and fits the falling portion of the signal after movement has stopped with a standard model. Using this approach, we observed physiologically plausible brain activity patterns associated with pedaling in the primary and secondary sensory and motor cortices and the cerebellum. To our knowledge, this is the first time that human brain activity associated with pedaling has been recorded with fMRI. This technique may be useful for advancing our understanding of supraspinal control of locomotor-like movements in health and disease.

Author List

Mehta JP, Verber MD, Wieser JA, Schmit BD, Schindler-Ivens SM


Sheila Schindler-Ivens PhD Assistant Professor in the Physical Therapy department at Marquette University
Brian Schmit PhD Professor in the Biomedical Engineering department at Marquette University

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Brain Mapping
Cerebrovascular Circulation
Exercise Test
Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Middle Aged
Motor Cortex
Muscle, Skeletal
Oxygen Consumption
Somatosensory Cortex
Young Adult