Changes in Cortical Activity During Real and Imagined Movements: an ERP Study

Sergio Machado*, 1, 4, 7, 8, Oscar Arias-Carrión5, Flávia Paes1, Pedro Ribeiro2, 3, Mauricio Cagy6, Roberto Piedade2, Leonardo Ferreira Almada8, Renato Anghinah9, Luis Basile10, Maria Francesca Moro11, Marco Orsini12, 13, Julio Guilherme Silva13, Adriana Cardoso Silva1, Antonio E. Nardi1 1
1 Panic and Respiration, Institute of Psychiatry of Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; National Institute for Translational Medicine (INCT-TM), Brazil
2 Brain Mapping and Sensory Motor Integration, Institute of Psychiatry of Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
3 Bioscience Department (EEFD/UFRJ), School of Physical Education, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
4 Quiropraxia Program of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Central University (UCEN), Santiago, Chile
5 Movement Disorders and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Unit, Hospital General Dr. Manuel Gea González, México DF, México
6 Bioengenieren Program, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
7 Physical Activity Neuroscience, Physical Activity Sciences Postgraduate Program - Salgado de Oliveira University, Niterói, Brazil
8 Institute of Phylosophy, Federal University of Uberlândia (IFILO/UFU), Brazil
9 Center for Cognitive Disorders of the Division of Clinical Neurology of the HCFMUSP
10 Laboratory of Psychophysiology, Faculdade da Saúde, Universidade Metodista de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, Division of Neurosurgery, University of São Paulo Medical School, São Paulo, Brazil
11 Department of Public Health and Clinical and Molecular Medicine, University of Cagliari, Italy
12 Neurology Department, Antonio Pedro University Hospital, Federal Fluminense University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
13 Sciences Rehabilitation Masters Program – UNISUAM

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© Machado et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Laboratory of Panic and Respiration. Institute of Psychiatry, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rua Bolivar, 150/apt, 702. Copacabana, CEP 22061-020, Rio de Janeiro, RJ – Brazil; Tel: +55.2191.567006. E-mail:


This study aims to compare the topographic distribution of cortical activation between real and imagined movement through event-related potential (ERP). We are specifically interested in identifying, the topographic distribution of activated areas, the intensity of activated areas, and the temporal occurrence of these activations on preparation and motor response phases. Twelve healthy and right handed subjects were instructed to perform a task under real and imagery conditions. The task was performed simultaneously to electroencephalographic (EEG) recording. When compared the conditions, we found a statistically significant difference in favor of real condition revealed by performing an unpaired t-test with multiple corrections of Bonferroni, demonstrating negative activity on electrode C3 and positive activity on the electrode C4 only in motor response phase. These findings revealed similar functional connections established during real and imagery conditions, suggesting that there are common neural substrate and similar properties of functional integration shared by conditions.

Keywords: : Cortical activity, event-related potential, ERP, imagined and real movements.