Cerebral preparation of spontaneous movements: An EEG study

Clin Neurophysiol. 2020 Nov;131(11):2561-2565. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2020.08.002. Epub 2020 Aug 25.


Objective: The current study sought to determine whether there is a Bereitschaftspotential (BP) before uninstructed, spontaneous movements.

Methods: 14 participants were seated on a comfortable armchair for one hour without any instruction except not to fall asleep and to keep their eyes open. Electroencephalography (EEG) and electromyography (EMG) activity were recorded during the whole session. EEG activity was analyzed before spontaneous movements and compared with EEG activity before repetitive, instructed movements in a separate session.

Results: BPs were identified in most participants with the spontaneous movements. The BPs with spontaneous movements were mostly localized in the medial frontocentral regions. The BPs with the instructed movements were localized primarily in the central regions and had larger amplitude.

Conclusion: Presence of a BP before movement does not depend on instruction and may be independent of conscious volition. The amplitude of the BP may depend on the amount of attention.

Significance: This study shows that the presence of a BP before movement is not an "artifact" of the experimental instructions.

Keywords: Bereitschaftspotential; Conscious intention; EEG; EMG; Readiness potential; Volition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Contingent Negative Variation / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Volition / physiology