Temporal and spatial patterns of cortical activation during assisted lower limb movement

Exp Brain Res. 2010 May;203(1):181-91. doi: 10.1007/s00221-010-2223-5. Epub 2010 Apr 3.


Human gait is a complex process in the central nervous system that results from the integrity of various mechanisms, including different cortical and subcortical structures. In the present study, we investigated cortical activity during lower limb movement using EEG. Assisted by a dynamic tilt table, all subjects performed standardized stepping movements in an upright position. Source localization of the movement-related potential in relation to spontaneous EEG showed activity in brain regions classically associated with human gait such as the primary motor cortex, the premotor cortex, the supplementary motor cortex, the cingulate cortex, the primary somatosensory cortex and the somatosensory association cortex. Further, we observed a task-related power decrease in the alpha and beta frequency band at electrodes overlying the leg motor area. A temporal activation and deactivation of the involved brain regions as well as the chronological sequence of the movement-related potential could be mapped to specific phases of the gait-like leg movement. We showed that most cortical capacity is needed for changing the direction between the flexion and extension phase. An enhanced understanding of the human gait will provide a basis to improve applications in the field of neurorehabilitation and brain-computer interfaces.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm
  • Beta Rhythm
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Self-Help Devices
  • Time Factors
  • Walking / physiology*