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Imaging Study of Automatic Movements

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00031382
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : March 4, 2002
Last Update Posted : March 4, 2008
Information provided by:
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)

Brief Summary:

This study uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to explore the brain activities involved in performing learned automatic movements. Automatic movements are performed without concentrating on the details of the movement.

Healthy adult volunteers are eligible for this study. Candidates will have a medical history and brief physical examination and will fill out a questionnaire. Women of childbearing potential will have a urine pregnancy test. Pregnant women will not be enrolled.

Participants will perform certain tasks involving movement of the right or left hand while undergoing MRI scanning. They will undergo scanning twice-before and after practicing the movement tasks. Before the second scan, participants will practice the following tasks for 1 week:

  • Tapping task - subjects use their left index finger to tap a button at a certain frequency.
  • Sequential movement task - subjects perform sequential finger-tapping movements with their right hand, in which they tap buttons with their fingers at a certain frequency in a 25-second period. There are two sequences of different lengths, referred to as sequence-4 and sequence-12, based on the number of movements in each unit of the sequence.
  • Visual distraction task - 14-letter sequences consisting of the letters A, G, L, and O will be presented and subjects will be asked to identify the number of times they see a target letter.
  • Dual tasks - after completing all the above tasks, subjects perform the following dual tasks:

Tapping and visual task

Sequence-4 finger tap and visual task

Sequence-12 finger tap and visual task

Tapping and sequence-4 finger tap

Tapping and sequence-12 finger tap

When the participants can perform the dual tasks correctly 90 percent of the time, the movements will be considered automatic, and the subjects will undergo MRI scanning. MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce images of the brain. For the procedure, the subject lies still on a stretcher that is moved into the scanner (a narrow cylinder containing the magnet). Earplugs are worn to muffle loud noises caused by electrical switching of radio frequency circuits used in the scanning process. The scan will last about 1.5 hours.

Condition or disease

Detailed Description:
A general characteristic of the motor system is that people can perform some learned movements automatically. The underlying neural correlates of automatic movement have been investigated, but are not fully understood. In the present study, in order to investigate the brain activities contributing to the phenomenon, we use a specially designed dual task paradigm and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technique. Forty healthy adult subjects are asked to perform motor tasks (squeezing of hand or sequential movement of fingers) while listening to an auditory distraction task, or to execute two different motor tasks simultaneously. fMRI is obtained during their performance of these tasks. By analyzing fMRI results, we will explore the brain regions especially devoted to the automatic movements.

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Study Type : Observational
Enrollment : 40 participants
Official Title: A Neuroimaging Study of Automatic Movements
Study Start Date : February 2002
Study Completion Date : March 2005

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

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Ages Eligible for Study:   Child, Adult, Older Adult
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes


Forty normal adult volunteers will be included. Volunteers will be recruited from people who are registered as HMCS Normal Volunteers. All subjects participating in MR studies should have a valid Clinical Center Medical Record Number. Procedures for the functional fMRI experiment will follow the Standard Operating Procedures of HMCS Neuroimaging group.


Subjects with pacemakers, cardiac, or neural defibrillators, intracranial aneurysm clips, intraorbital metallic structures, insulin pumps, cochlear implants, and other metallic objects will not be scanned. We will not scan pregnant women because the safety of high magnetic fields to the fetus is not established. Therefore, we will administer a urine pregnancy field for any female of childbearing potential prior to functional MRI scan. If the result from a urine pregnancy test is not available for some reason, a medical doctor will judge based on the proper information prior to the scanning. We will also exclude children because the study will be too complex for them.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT00031382

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United States, Maryland
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

Layout table for additonal information Identifier: NCT00031382    
Other Study ID Numbers: 020135
First Posted: March 4, 2002    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: March 4, 2008
Last Verified: March 2005
Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):
Functional MRI
Dual Task
Neural Activation
Basal Ganglia
Healthy Volunteer
Normal Control