We measured visually-cued motor responses in two developmentally separate groups of children and compared these responses to a group of adults. We hypothesized that if post-movement beta rebound (PMBR) depends on developmentally sensitive processes, PMBR will be greatest in adults and progressively decrease in children performing a basic motor task as a function of age. Twenty children (10 young children 4-6 years; 10 adolescent children 11-13 years) and 10 adults all had MEG recorded during separate recordings of right and left index finger movements. Beta band (15-30 Hz) event-related desynchronization (ERD) of bi-lateral sensorimotor areas was observed to increase significantly from both contralateral and ipsilateral MI with age. Movement-related gamma synchrony (60-90 Hz) was also observed from contralateral MI for each age group. However, PMBR was significantly reduced in the 4-6 year group and, while more prominent, remained significantly diminished in the adolescent (11-13 year) age group as compared to adults. PMBR measures were weak or absent in the youngest children tested and appear maximally from bilateral MI in adults. Thus PMBR may reflect an age-dependent inhibitory process of the primary motor cortex which comes on-line with normal development. Previous studies have shown PMBR may be observed from MI following a variety of movement-related tasks in adult participants - however, the origin and purpose of the PMBR is unclear. The current study shows that the expected PMBR from MI observed from adults is increasingly diminished in adolescent and young children respectively. A reduction in PMBR from children may reflect reduced motor cortical inhibition. Relatively less motor inhibition may facilitate neuronal plasticity and promote motor learning in children.
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