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Selective movement preparation is subserved by selective increases in corticomuscular gamma-band coherence


Fries,  Pascal
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour;
Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, D-60528 Frankfurt, Germany ;

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Schoffelen, J.-M., Poort, J., Oostenveld, R., & Fries, P. (2011). Selective movement preparation is subserved by selective increases in corticomuscular gamma-band coherence. Journal of Neuroscience, 31, 6750-6758. doi:10.1523/​JNEUROSCI.4882-10.2011.

Local groups of neurons engaged in a cognitive task often exhibit rhythmically synchronized activity in the gamma band, a phenomenon that likely enhances their impact on downstream areas. The efficacy of neuronal interactions may be enhanced further by interareal synchronization of these local rhythms, establishing mutually well timed fluctuations in neuronal excitability. This notion suggests that long-range synchronization is enhanced selectively for connections that are behaviorally relevant. We tested this prediction in the human motor system, assessing activity from bilateral motor cortices with magnetoencephalography and corresponding spinal activity through electromyography of bilateral hand muscles. A bimanual isometric wrist extension task engaged the two motor cortices simultaneously into interactions and coherence with their respective corresponding contralateral hand muscles. One of the hands was cued before each trial as the response hand and had to be extended further to report an unpredictable visual go cue. We found that, during the isometric hold phase, corticomuscular coherence was enhanced, spatially selective for the corticospinal connection that was effectuating the subsequent motor response. This effect was spectrally selective in the low gamma-frequency band (40–47 Hz) and was observed in the absence of changes in motor output or changes in local cortical gamma-band synchronization. These findings indicate that, in the anatomical connections between the cortex and the spinal cord, gamma-band synchronization is a mechanism that may facilitate behaviorally relevant interactions between these distant neuronal groups.