Objective: Here, we investigate whether the event-related desynchronization (ERD) of spectral components of the cortical EEG in the beta (13-30 Hz) frequency range may, in part, index motor selection processes. Specifically, we sought evidence for a contralaterally dominant component of the beta ERD that is limited to trials in which motor selection is possible prior to any imperative cue to move, with attendant behavioural advantage.
Methods: We measured reaction time and assessed the lateralization of beta ERD in 12 healthy volunteers as they performed pre-cued choice reaction time tasks, in which warning S1 cues were either fully predictive about the laterality of a subsequent imperative S2 signal or provided no laterality information. We calculated 'lateralized ERD index' (LERDI), a parallel measure to the lateralized readiness potential in the time domain.
Results: Trials with 100% S1-S2 congruency produced significantly shorter reaction times than trials with 50% S1-S2 congruency, where laterality information was unreliable. Beta LERDI indicated significantly greater lateralisation of the ERD in the warning-go interval and of event-related synchronization (ERS) following movement in the 100% condition than in the 50% condition. The lateralization of the beta ERD with respect to hand persisted, even when subjects were instructed to make movements of opposite laterality to those prompted.
Conclusions: Lateralized EEG changes occur in the beta band in the S1-S2 interval prior to movement, but only when informative warning cues allow early motor selection, as suggested by the shortening of reaction time. Furthermore, the enhanced contralateral ERS with 100% S1-S2 congruency suggests that this phenomenon is at least partly independent of afferent feedback, as the same movement was made in the 100 and 50% conditions.
Significance: Lateralized suppression of beta power prior to externally generated movements is associated with motor selection.