Self-paced movements induce high-frequency gamma oscillations in primary motor cortex

Neuroimage. 2008 Aug 1;42(1):332-42. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.04.178. Epub 2008 Apr 23.


There has been increasing interest in the functional role of high-frequency (>30 Hz) cortical oscillations accompanying various sensorimotor and cognitive tasks in humans. Similar "high gamma" activity has been observed in the motor cortex, although the role of this activity in motor control is unknown. Using whole-head MEG recordings combined with advanced source localization methods, we identified high-frequency (65 to 80 Hz) gamma oscillations in the primary motor cortex during self-paced movements of the upper and lower limbs. Brief bursts of gamma activity were localized to the contralateral precentral gyrus (MI) during self-paced index finger abductions, elbow flexions and foot dorsiflexions. In comparison to lower frequency (10-30 Hz) sensorimotor rhythms that are bilaterally suppressed prior to and during movement (Jurkiewicz et al., 2006), high gamma activity increased only during movement, reaching maximal increase 100 to 250 ms following EMG onset, and was lateralized to contralateral MI, similar to findings from intracranial EEG studies. Peak frequency of gamma activity was significantly lower during foot dorsiflexion (67.4+/-5.2 Hz) than during finger abduction (75.3+/-4.4 Hz) and elbow flexion (73.9+/-3.7 Hz) although markedly similar for left and right movements of the same body part within subjects, suggesting activation of a common underlying network for gamma oscillations in the left and right motor cortex. These findings demonstrate that voluntary movements elicit high-frequency gamma oscillations in the primary motor cortex that are effector specific, and possibly reflect the activation of cortico-subcortical networks involved in the feedback control of discrete movements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Volition / physiology*
  • Young Adult