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Elife. 2017 May 3;6. pii: e24573. doi: 10.7554/eLife.24573.

Beta band oscillations in motor cortex reflect neural population signals that delay movement onset.

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UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Graduate Program in Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States.
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States.
Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States.


Motor cortical beta oscillations have been reported for decades, yet their behavioral correlates remain unresolved. Some studies link beta oscillations to changes in underlying neural activity, but the specific behavioral manifestations of these reported changes remain elusive. To investigate how changes in population neural activity, beta oscillations, and behavior are linked, we recorded multi-scale neural activity from motor cortex while three macaques performed a novel neurofeedback task. Subjects volitionally brought their beta oscillatory power to an instructed state and subsequently executed an arm reach. Reaches preceded by a reduction in beta power exhibited significantly faster movement onset times than reaches preceded by an increase in beta power. Further, population neural activity was found to shift farther from a movement onset state during beta oscillations that were neurofeedback-induced or naturally occurring during reaching tasks. This finding establishes a population neural basis for slowed movement onset following periods of beta oscillatory activity.


beta oscillation; movement; neuroscience; rhesus macaque

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