Assessing brain-muscle connectivity in human locomotion through mobile brain/body imaging: Opportunities, pitfalls, and future directions

Federico Gennaro, Eling D. De Bruin
Assessment of the cortical role during bipedalism has been a methodological challenge. While surface electroencephalography (EEG) is capable of non-invasively measuring cortical activity during human locomotion, it is associated with movement artifacts obscuring cerebral sources of activity. Recently, statistical methods based on blind source separation revealed potential for resolving this issue, by segregating non-cerebral/artifactual from cerebral sources of activity. This step marked a new
more » ... pportunity for the investigation of the brains' role while moving and was tagged mobile brain/body imaging (MoBI). This methodology involves simultaneous mobile recording of brain activity with several other body behavioral variables (e.g., muscle activity and kinematics), through wireless recording wearable devices/sensors. Notably, several MoBI studies using EEG-EMG approaches recently showed that the brain is functionally connected to the muscles and active throughout the whole gait cycle and, thus, rejecting the long-lasting idea of a solely spinal-driven bipedalism. However, MoBI and brain/muscle connectivity assessments during human locomotion are still in their fledgling state of investigation. Mobile brain/body imaging approaches hint toward promising opportunities; however, there are some remaining pitfalls that need to be resolved before considering their routine clinical use. This article discusses several of these pitfalls and proposes research to address them. Examples relate to the validity, reliability, and reproducibility of this method in ecologically valid scenarios and in different populations. Furthermore, whether brain/muscle connectivity within the MoBI framework represents a potential biomarker in neuromuscular syndromes where gait disturbances are evident (e.g., age-related sarcopenia) remains to be determined.
doi:10.3929/ethz-b-000268353 fatcat:udektm3f4nflzmxdua6jwyhmem