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J Physiol. 1995 Dec 15;489 ( Pt 3):917-24.

Synchronization between motor cortex and spinal motoneuronal pool during the performance of a maintained motor task in man.

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Bioengineering Unit, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK.


1. Simultaneous recordings of cortical activity, recorded as the magnetoencephalogram (MEG), and the electromyogram (EMG) of the ipsilateral and contralateral first dorsal interosseous muscles (1DI) were made during maintained voluntary contractions. 2. The MEG recorded from a localized region of the sensorimotor cortex of the dominant hemisphere was coherent with the EMG from the contralateral 1DI muscle over a limited band of frequencies. The peak coherence was confined largely within the beta range of cortical activity (13-35 Hz). Significant cortical activity at 10 Hz and 40-50 Hz was not correlated with motor output. The MEG and EMG from the ipsilateral 1DI muscle were uncorrelated at all frequencies. 3. Significant coherence between the MEG and the EMG was associated with synchronous behaviour between the MEG and EMG in the time domain. 4. The results demonstrate that synchronized cortical activity contributing to MEG activity within the beta range of frequencies during maintained voluntary contractions is coupled to motor output at frequencies of motor-unit activity associated with motor-unit synchronization. This observation provides further evidence for the involvement of cortical neurones in the generation of motor-unit synchronization. 5. We suggest that the coherence between MEG and contralateral EMG observed during maintained isometric contractions may provide an example of binding within the motor system.

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