Video mirror feedback induces more extensive brain activation compared to the mirror box: an fNIRS study in healthy adults


Background: Mirror therapy (MT) has been shown to be effective for motor recovery of the upper limb after a stroke. The cerebral mechanisms of mirror therapy involve the precuneus, premotor cortex and primary motor cortex. Activation of the precuneus could be a marker of this effectiveness. MT has some limitations and video therapy (VT) tools are being developed to optimise MT. While the clinical superiority of these new tools remains to be demonstrated, comparing the cerebral mechanisms of these different modalities will provide a better understanding of the related neuroplasticity mechanisms. Methods: Thirty-three right-handed healthy individuals were included in this study. Participants were equipped with a near-infrared spectroscopy headset covering the precuneus, the premotor cortex and the primary motor cortex of each hemisphere. Each participant performed 3 tasks: a MT task (right hand movement and left visual feedback), a VT task (left visual feedback only) and a control task (right hand movement only). Perception of illusion was rated for MT and VT by asking participants to rate the intensity using a visual analogue scale. The aim of this study was to compare brain activation during MT and VT. We also evaluated the correlation between the precuneus activation and the illusion quality of the visual mirrored feedback. Results: We found a greater activation of both precunei during VT than during MT. We also showed that activation of primary motor cortex and premotor cortex contralateral to visual feedback was more extensive in VT than in MT. Illusion perception was not correlated with precuneus activation. Conclusion: VT led to greater activation of a parieto-frontal network than MT. This could result from a greater focus on visual feedback and a reduction in interhemispheric inhibition in VT because of the absence of an associated motor task. These results suggest that VT could promote neuroplasticity mechanisms in people with brain lesions more efficiently than MT. Clinical trial registration: NCT04738851