Event-related dynamics of cortical rhythms: frequency-specific features and functional correlates

Int J Psychophysiol. 2001 Dec;43(1):41-58. doi: 10.1016/s0167-8760(01)00178-7.


Oscillations in the alpha and beta band (<35 Hz) display a dynamic behavior and show characteristic spatiotemporal patterns in sensory, motor and cognitive tasks. The event-related desynchronization (ERD) of alpha band and beta rhythms can be seen as a correlate of an activated cortical area with an increased excitability level of neurons. An event-related synchronization (ERS) of frequency components between 10 and 13 Hz may represent a deactivated cortical area or inhibited cortical network, at least under certain circumstances. It is hypothesized, that antagonistic ERD/ERS patterns, called 'focal ERD/surround ERS', may reflect a thalamo-cortical mechanism to enhance focal cortical activation by simultaneous inhibition of other cortical areas. Induced oscillations in the beta band (13-35 Hz, beta ERS) were found in sensorimotor areas after voluntary movement and after somatosensory stimulation. This may be interpreted as a state of 'inhibition' of neural circuitry in the primary motor cortex. Simultaneous activation of the motor cortex by e.g. motor imagery lead to an attenuation of the beta ERS. Moreover, there is evidence that the frequency of the induced beta oscillations represent a 'resonance-like frequency' of underlying cortical networks. However, further research is needed to investigate the functional meaning of bursts of beta oscillations below 35 Hz.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alpha Rhythm
  • Attention / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cortical Synchronization*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Oscillometry
  • Periodicity*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology