Beta band modulations underlie action representations for movement planning

Luca Turella, Raffaele Tucciarelli, Nikolaas Oosterhof, Nathan Weisz, Raffaella I Rumiati, Angelika Lingnau

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To be able to interact with our environment, we need to transform incoming sensory information into goal-directed motor outputs. Whereas our ability to plan an appropriate movement based on sensory information appears effortless and simple, the underlying brain dynamics are still largely unknown.

Here we used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate this issue by recording brain activity during the planning of non-visually guided reaching and grasping actions, performed with either the left or right hand. Adopting a combination of univariate and multivariate analyses, we revealed specific patterns of beta power modulations underlying varying levels of neural representations during movement planning. (1) Effector-specific modulations were evident as a decrease in power in the beta band. Within both hemispheres, this decrease was stronger while planning a movement with the contralateral hand. (2) The comparison of planned grasping and reaching led to a relative increase in power in the beta band. These power changes were localized within temporal, premotor and posterior parietal cortices. Action-related modulations overlapped with effector-related beta power changes within widespread frontal and parietal regions, suggesting the possible integration of these two types of neural representations. (3) Multivariate analyses of action-specific power changes revealed that part of this broadband beta modulation also contributed to the encoding of an effector-independent neural representation of a planned action within fronto-parietal and temporal regions.

Our results suggest that beta band power modulations play a central role in movement planning, within both the dorsal and ventral stream, by coding and integrating different levels of neural representations, ranging from the simple representation of the to-be-moved effector up to an abstract, effector-independent representation of the upcoming action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197–207
Number of pages11
Early online date10 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016

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