Theta oscillations locked to intended actions rhythmically modulate perception

Elife. 2017 Jul 7;6:e25618. doi: 10.7554/eLife.25618.


Ongoing brain oscillations are known to influence perception, and to be reset by exogenous stimulations. Voluntary action is also accompanied by prominent rhythmic activity, and recent behavioral evidence suggests that this might be coupled with perception. Here, we reveal the neurophysiological underpinnings of this sensorimotor coupling in humans. We link the trial-by-trial dynamics of EEG oscillatory activity during movement preparation to the corresponding dynamics in perception, for two unrelated visual and motor tasks. The phase of theta oscillations (~4 Hz) predicts perceptual performance, even >1 s before movement. Moreover, theta oscillations are phase-locked to the onset of the movement. Remarkably, the alignment of theta phase and its perceptual relevance unfold with similar non-monotonic profiles, suggesting their relatedness. The present work shows that perception and movement initiation are automatically synchronized since the early stages of motor planning through neuronal oscillatory activity in the theta range.

Keywords: action-perception coupling; human; neuronal oscillations; neuroscience; phase; sensorimotor; theta.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement*
  • Perception*
  • Sensorimotor Cortex / physiology*
  • Theta Rhythm*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.