Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 177, Issue 1, pp 137–145 | Cite as

Phasic increases in cortical beta activity are associated with alterations in sensory processing in the human

  • Elodie Lalo
  • Thomas Gilbertson
  • Louise Doyle
  • Vincenzo Di Lazzaro
  • Beatrice Cioni
  • Peter BrownEmail author
Research Article


Oscillatory activity in the beta (β)-frequency band (13–35 Hz) can be recorded over the sensorimotor cortex in humans. It is coherent with electromyographic activity (EMG) during tonic contraction, but whether the cortical β-oscillations are primarily motor or sensorimotor in function remains unclear. We tested the hypothesis that cortical β-activity is associated with an up-regulation of sensory inputs that may be relevant to the organization of the motor response. We recorded cortical somatosensory potentials (SEPs) elicited by electrical stimuli to the median nerve at the wrist triggered by increases of electroencephalographic (EEG) β-activity in the contralateral fronto-central EEG and compared these to SEPs presented at random intervals. The involvement of motor cortex in the triggering EEG activity was confirmed by a simultaneous elevation of cortico-spinal synchrony in the β-band. The negative cortical evoked potential peaking at 20 ms and the positive evoked potential peaking at 30 ms after median nerve shocks were increased in size when elicited after phasic increases in β-activity. The functional coupling of sensory and motor cortices in the β-band was confirmed in recordings of electrocorticographic activity in two patients with chronic pain syndromes, suggesting a means by which β-activity may simultaneously influence cortical sensory processing, motor output and promote sensory-motor interaction.


Somatosensory evoked potentials Beta oscillations 



This work was supported by the Association France-Parkinson (E.L.), Amulree Trust (T.G.) and the Medical Research Council of Great Britain (L.D. and P.B.).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elodie Lalo
    • 1
  • Thomas Gilbertson
    • 1
  • Louise Doyle
    • 1
  • Vincenzo Di Lazzaro
    • 2
  • Beatrice Cioni
    • 3
  • Peter Brown
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement DisordersInstitute of NeurologyLondonUK
  2. 2. Institute of NeurologyUniversita` CattolicaRomeItaly
  3. 3.Institute of NeurosurgeryUniversita` CattolicaRomeItaly

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