On the human sensorimotor-cortex beta rhythm: sources and modeling

Neuroimage. 2005 Jun;26(2):347-55. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.02.008. Epub 2005 Apr 7.


Cortical oscillations in the beta band (13-35 Hz) are known to be modulated by the GABAergic agonist benzodiazepine. To investigate the mechanisms generating the approximately 20-Hz oscillations in the human cortex, we administered benzodiazepines to healthy adults and monitored cortical oscillatory activity by means of magnetoencephalography. Benzodiazepine increased the power and decreased the frequency of beta oscillations over rolandic areas. Minimum current estimates indicated the effect to take place around the hand area of the primary sensorimotor cortex. Given that previous research has identified sources of the beta rhythm in the motor cortex, our results suggest that these same motor-cortex beta sources are modulated by benzodiazepine. To explore the mechanisms underlying the increase in beta power with GABAergic inhibition, we simulated a conductance-based neuronal network comprising excitatory and inhibitory neurons. The model accounts for the increase in the beta power, the widening of the spectral peak, and the slowing down of the rhythms with benzodiazepines, implemented as an increase in GABAergic conductance. We found that an increase in IPSCs onto inhibitory neurons was more important for generating neuronal synchronization in the beta band than an increase in IPSCs onto excitatory pyramidal cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Benzodiazepines / pharmacology
  • Beta Rhythm* / drug effects
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / drug effects
  • GABA Agonists / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Interneurons / drug effects
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Models, Statistical
  • Motor Cortex / drug effects
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Neural Conduction / drug effects
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Pyramidal Cells / drug effects
  • Somatosensory Cortex / drug effects
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology


  • GABA Agonists
  • Benzodiazepines