Motivation and motor cortical activity can independently affect motor performance

Neuroscience. 2016 Dec 17;339:174-179. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.09.049. Epub 2016 Oct 12.


The present study explored the relationship between motor-preparatory electroencephalographic (EEG) activity, motivation, and motor performance (specifically premotor reaction time [RT]). Participants performed a RT task by squeezing a hand dynamometer in response to an auditory "go" signal. We recorded EEG and electromyography to index beta-suppression and premotor RT, respectively. Participants' motivation on each trial was modulated by offering monetary incentives at different magnitudes. Mixed-effect linear regression models showed that monetary incentive predicted premotor RT when controlling for beta-suppression, and beta-suppression independently predicted premotor RT. Thus, it appears motivation and beta-suppression can facilitate motor performance independent of one another. A plausible explanation of this effect is that motivation can affect motor performance independent of the motor cortex by influencing subcortical motor circuitry.

Keywords: beta-suppression; electroencephalography; electromyography; incentives; premotor reaction time.

MeSH terms

  • Anticipation, Psychological / physiology
  • Beta Rhythm / physiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Motivation / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Muscle Strength Dynamometer
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Young Adult