IMR Press / JIN / Volume 22 / Issue 5 / DOI: 10.31083/j.jin2205127
Open Access Original Research
Regulation of “Right Ankle Dorsiflexion” Motor Imagery on Brain Function of Spinal Cord Injury: A FOCA-Based Prospective Study
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1 Department of Neurological Rehabilitation, Care Alliance Rehabilitation Hospital of Chengdu, 610043 Chengdu, Sichuan, China
2 Medical Department, Care Alliance Rehabilitation Hospital of Chengdu, 610043 Chengdu, Sichuan, China
3 School of Life Science and Technology, High-Field Magnetic Resonance Brain Imaging Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, 610054 Chengdu, Sichuan, China
4 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, General Hospital of the Western Theater of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, 610008 Chengdu, Sichuan, China
5 The Teaching and Research Department of Rehabilitation Foundations, Chongqing Nursing Vocational College, 400014 Chongqing, China
6 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Shanghai Fourth People's Hospital Affiliated to Tongji University School of Medicine, 200434 Shanghai, China
*Correspondence: (An-Ren Zhang)
J. Integr. Neurosci. 2023, 22(5), 127;
Submitted: 16 January 2023 | Revised: 16 March 2023 | Accepted: 24 March 2023 | Published: 21 August 2023
Copyright: © 2023 The Author(s). Published by IMR Press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Background: Motor dysfunction is the main functional disability after spinal cord injury (SCI), seriously affecting the life and work of patients. In addition to spinal cord damage, the brain undergoes structural and functional plastic changes. This study explored brain function remodeling in patients with SCI and the effect of right ankle dorsiflexion motor imagery task on brain function. Methods: This prospective study enrolled 11 patients with SCI and dyskinesia of the right lower limb and 12 healthy subjects at the General Hospital of Western Theater Command PLA (January 2015 to December 2016). They underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in the resting state and the “right ankle dorsiflexion” motor imagery task state. Four-dimensional (spatiotemporal) concordance (FOCA) of local neuronal activity was used for fMRI image analysis. The differences between SCI patients and healthy subjects were compared using the two-sample t-test. Results: In the resting state, compared with healthy subjects, patients with SCI showed decreased FOCA in the left putamen, right caudate nucleus, and right superior occipital gyrus and increased FOCA in the left precentral gyrus. In the right ankle dorsiflexion motor imagery task state, FOCAs in the right inferior temporal gyrus and left inferior parietal lobule were decreased in patients with SCI. Conclusions: After SCI, a series of changes in the structure and function of the brain occur. Research on brain plasticity after SCI might help explore the central mechanisms underlying functional recovery after treatments, providing more therapeutic strategies for SCI.

spinal cord injury
functional magnetic resonance imaging
brain function regulation
motor imagery
2013YG-A009/2013 The General Hospital of Western Theater Command PLA Project
Fig. 1.
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