Sensorimotor Activities and Their Functional Connectivity Elicited by Robot-Assisted Passive Movements of Lower Limbs
Takeshi Sakurada*, Ayaka Horiuchi**, and Takashi Komeda**
*Faculty of Science and Technology, Seikei University
3-3-1 Kichijoji-kitamachi, Musashino-shi, Tokyo 180-8633, Japan
**Graduate school of Systems Engineering and Science, Shibaura Institute of Technology
307 Fukasaku, Minuma, Saitama, Saitama 330-8570, Japan
Robot-assisted body movements are a useful approach for the rehabilitation of motor dysfunction. Various robots based on end-effector or exoskeleton type have been proposed. However, the effect of these robots on brain activity during assistive lower limb movements remains unclear. In this study, we evaluated brain activity results among robot-assisted passive movements, voluntary active movements, and kinesthetic motor imagery. We measured and compared the brain activities of 21 young, healthy individuals during three experimental conditions associated with lower limb movements (active, passive, and imagery conditions) using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Our results showed that although different brain areas with significant activity were observed among the conditions, the temporal patterns of the activity in each recording channel and the spatial patterns of functional connectivity showed high similarity between robot-assisted passive movements and voluntary active movements. Conversely, the robot-assisted passive movements did not show any similarity to motor imagery. Overall, these findings suggest that the robotic assistive approach is useful for activating not only afferent processes associated with sensory feedback processing but also motor control-related efferent processes.
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