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Altered postural control in the trunk/hip musculature is a characteristic of multiple neurological and musculoskeletal conditions. Previously it was not possible to determine if altered cortical and subcortical sensorimotor brain activation underlies impairments in postural control. This study used a novel fMRI-compatible paradigm to identify the brain activation associated with postural control in the trunk and hip musculature. BOLD fMRI imaging was conducted as participants performed two versions of a lower limb task involving lifting the left leg to touch the foot to a target. For the supported leg raise (SLR) the leg is raised from the knee while the thigh remains supported. For the unsupported leg raise (ULR) the leg is raised from the hip, requiring postural muscle activation in the abdominal/hip extensor musculature. Significant brain activation during the SLR task occurred predominantly in the right primary and secondary sensorimotor cortical regions. Brain activation during the ULR task occurred bilaterally in the primary and secondary sensorimotor cortical regions, as well as cerebellum and putamen. In comparison with the SLR, the ULR was associated with significantly greater activation in the right premotor/SMA, left primary motor and cingulate cortices, primary somatosensory cortex, supramarginal gyrus/parietal operculum, superior parietal lobule, cerebellar vermis, and cerebellar hemispheres. Cortical and subcortical regions activated during the ULR, but not during the SLR, were consistent with the planning, and execution of a task involving multisegmental, bilateral postural control. Future studies using this paradigm will determine mechanisms underlying impaired postural control in patients with neurological and musculoskeletal dysfunction.


This article was originally published in Human Brain Mapping, volume 44, issue 10, in 2023.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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