Numerous studies of motor control have confirmed beta and gamma oscillations in the primary motor cortices during basic movements. These responses include a robust beta decrease that precedes and extends through movement onset, a transient gamma response that coincides with the movement, and a post-movement beta rebound (PMBR) response that occurs after movement offset. While the existence of these responses has been confirmed by many studies, very few studies have examined their developmental trajectory. In the current study, we utilized magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate age-related changes in sensorimotor cortical oscillations in a large cross-section of children and adolescents (n = 94; age range = 9 -15 years-old). All participants performed a stimulus detection task with their right finger and the resulting MEG data were examined using oscillatory analysis methods and imaged using a beamformer. Consistent with adult studies, these youth participants exhibited characteristic beta (16-24 Hz) decreases prior to and during movement, as well as PMBR responses following movement offset, and a transient gamma (74-84 Hz) response during movement execution. Our primary findings were that the strength of the PMBR increased with age, while the strength of the gamma synchronization decreased with chronological age. In addition, the strength of each motor-related oscillatory response was significantly correlated with the power of spontaneous activity in the same frequency range and same voxel. This was the case for all three oscillatory responses. In conclusion, we investigated motor-related oscillatory activity in the largest cohort of children and adolescents reported to date, and our results indicated that beta and gamma cortical oscillations continue to develop as children transition into adolescents, and that these responses may not be fully matured until young to middle adulthood.
Keywords: Beta; Gamma; Hand; MEG; Motor cortex; PBMR.
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