Scientists from Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod and IKBFU have discovered brain areas responsible for the mental simulation of movement. Magnetic stimulation of these areas increases a person's reaction speed and coordination, which could be used in medicine and sports training. The findings were presented in Sensors.
Motor imagery (MI) is defined as the mental modelling of a given movement in working memory without any overt motor output. MI contributes to the improvement of motor performance in musicians, athletes and dancers by allowing them to mentally practise complex motions.Motor imagery (MI) is defined as the mental modelling of a given movement in working memory without any overt motor output. MI contributes to the improvement of motor performance in musicians, athletes and dancers by allowing them to mentally practise complex motions.
Despite the unclear nature of the underlying neural mechanisms, MI is widely used as a technique in neurorehabilitation.
Researchers from the N. I. Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod and the Baltic Federal University have identified brain areas involved in the generation and perception of motor imagery, as well as the structure of neural networks engaged in the process.
Susanna Gordleeva, professor at the Department of Neurodynamics and Neurobiology at Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod:
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the identified brain areas has shown to affect response times, accuracy, and motor cortex excitability. TMS is a non-invasive technique that uses magnetic fields to stimulate specific regions of the brain.
The findings make it possible to create a magnetic stimulation neurointerface that allows for the enhancement of human reaction speed. This approach is potentially applicable to offset reaction slowdown in the elderly, in the creation of new rehabilitation methods for motor disorders, and the development of new training methods for athletes.
The development of the neurointerface will begin at the Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod in 2024.
This research was funded by the Russian Science Foundation (Project 21-72-10121) and received support from the federal academic leadership program “Priority 2030” of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation.