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Elife. 2019 Nov 7;8. pii: e48404. doi: 10.7554/eLife.48404.

Differential contributions of the two human cerebral hemispheres to action timing.

Author information

Cognitive Neuroscience Group, Brain Imaging Center and Department of Neurology, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.
Movement Disorders and Neurostimulation, Biomedical Statistics and Multimodal Signal Processing Unit, Department of Neurology, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany.
Contributed equally


Rhythmic actions benefit from synchronization with external events. Auditory-paced finger tapping studies indicate the two cerebral hemispheres preferentially control different rhythms. It is unclear whether left-lateralized processing of faster rhythms and right-lateralized processing of slower rhythms bases upon hemispheric timing differences that arise in the motor or sensory system or whether asymmetry results from lateralized sensorimotor interactions. We measured fMRI and MEG during symmetric finger tapping, in which fast tapping was defined as auditory-motor synchronization at 2.5 Hz. Slow tapping corresponded to tapping to every fourth auditory beat (0.625 Hz). We demonstrate that the left auditory cortex preferentially represents the relative fast rhythm in an amplitude modulation of low beta oscillations while the right auditory cortex additionally represents the internally generated slower rhythm. We show coupling of auditory-motor beta oscillations supports building a metric structure. Our findings reveal a strong contribution of sensory cortices to hemispheric specialization in action control.


auditory cortex; beta partial directed coherence; finger tapping; hand motor control; human; lateralization; neuroscience; theta oscillations

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