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J Neurosci. 2000 Dec 1;20(23):8838-45.

Human cortical muscle coherence is directly related to specific motor parameters.

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Sobell Department of Neurophysiology, Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom.


Cortical oscillations have been the target of many recent investigations, because it has been proposed that they could function to solve the "binding" problem. In the motor cortex, oscillatory activity has been reported at a variety of frequencies between approximately 4 and approximately 60 Hz. Previous research has shown that 15-30 Hz oscillatory activity in the primary motor cortex is coherent or phase locked to activity in contralateral hand and forearm muscles during isometric contractions. However, the function of this oscillatory activity remains unclear. Is it simply an epiphenomenon or is it related to specific motor parameters? In this study, we investigated task-dependent modulation in coherence between motor cortex and hand muscles during precision grip tasks. Twelve right-handed subjects used index finger and thumb to grip two levers that were under robotic control. Each lever was fitted with a sensitive force gauge. Subjects received visual feedback of lever force levels and were instructed to keep them within target boxes throughout each trial. Surface EMGs were recorded from four hand and forearm muscles, and magnetoencephalography (MEG) was recorded using a 306 channel neuromagnetometer. All subjects showed significant levels of coherence (0.086-0.599) between MEG and muscle in the 15-30 Hz range. Coherence was significantly smaller when the task was performed under an isometric condition (levers fixed) compared with a compliant condition in which subjects moved the levers against a spring-like load. Furthermore, there was a positive, significant relationship between the level of coherence and the degree of lever compliance. These results argue in favor of coherence between cortex and muscle being related to specific parameters of hand motor function.

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