Motor imagery and gait control in Parkinson’s disease: techniques and new perspectives in neurorehabilitation

Giovanna Cuomo, Valerio Maglianella, Sheida Ghanbari Ghooshchy, Pierluigi Zoccolotti, Marialuisa Martelli, Stefano Paolucci, Giovanni Morone, Marco Iosa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Motor imagery (MI), defined as the ability to mentally represent an action without actual movement, has been used to improve motor function in athletes and, more recently, in neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). Several studies have investigated the neural correlates of motor imagery, which change also depending on the action imagined. Areas covered: This review focuses on locomotion, which is a crucial activity in everyday life and is often impaired by neurological conditions. After a general discussion on the neural correlates of motor imagery and locomotion, we review the evidence highlighting the abnormalities in gait control and gait imagery in PD patients. Next, new perspectives and techniques for PD patients’ rehabilitation are discussed, namely Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs), neurofeedback, and virtual reality (VR). Expert opinion: Despite the few studies, the literature review supports the potential beneficial effects of motor imagery interventions in PD focused on locomotion. The development of new technologies could empower the administration of training based on motor imagery locomotor tasks, and their application could lead to new rehabilitation protocols aimed at improving walking ability in patients with PD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExpert Review of Neurotherapeutics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • gait control
  • motor imagery
  • neuro-rehabilitation
  • Parkinson’s disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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