Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 208, Issue 2, pp 189–201 | Cite as

Premovement brain activity in a bimanual load-lifting task

  • Tommy H. B. Ng
  • Paul F. Sowman
  • Jon Brock
  • Blake W. Johnson
Research Article


Even the simplest volitional movements must be precisely coordinated with anticipatory postural adjustments. Little is currently known about the neural networks that coordinate these adjustments in healthy adults. We measured brain activity prior to movement during a bimanual load-lifting task, designed to elicit anticipatory adjustments in a restricted and well-defined set of musculature in the arm. Electroencephalography and magnetoencephalography brain measurements were obtained from eleven participants while they performed a bimanual load-lifting task that required precise inter-limb coordination. Anticipatory biceps brachii inhibition in the loaded arm was associated with a robust desynchronization of the beta rhythm. Beamforming analyses localized beta band responses to the parietal lobules, pre- and post-central gyri, middle and medial frontal gyri, basal ganglia and thalamus. The current study shows that premovement brain activity in a bimanual load-lifting task can be imaged with magnetoencephalography. Future experiments will partition out brain activity associated with anticipatory postural adjustments and volitional movements. The experimental paradigm will also be useful in the study of motor function in patients with developmental or degenerative disorders.


Anticipatory postural adjustments Beamforming Bimanual load-lifting task Event-related desynchronization Magnetoencephalography Motor coordination 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the collaboration of Kanazawa Institute of Technology and Yokogawa Electric Corporation in establishing the KIT-Macquarie MEG laboratory. We thank Dr. Graciela Tesan and Ms. Melanie Reid for technical assistance and Dr. Thomas Nichols, Dr. Mark Williams, and Dr. Vladimir Litvak for helpful advice regarding SPM analysis.

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tommy H. B. Ng
    • 1
  • Paul F. Sowman
    • 1
  • Jon Brock
    • 1
  • Blake W. Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.Macquarie Centre for Cognitive ScienceMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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