Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 237, Issue 1, pp 101–109 | Cite as

Effects of longer vs. shorter timed movement sequences on alpha motor inhibition when combining contractions and relaxations

  • Nils FlüthmannEmail author
  • Kouki Kato
  • Oliver Bloch
  • Kazyuki Kanosue
  • Tobias Vogt
Research Article


Alpha inhibitory processes reflect motor stimuli by either increasing or decreasing amplitude (i.e., power). However, the functional role and interplay of event-related alpha oscillations remains a regulatory domain that has not been sufficiently addressed, particularly with respect to different muscle activation types and durations in consecutive movement (i.e., motor) tasks. The aim of this study was to investigate alpha-band activity (7–13 Hz) in longer vs. shorter timed isometric muscle activations at distinct torques (20% and 40% of maximum voluntary contraction, MVC) when combined in one motor task sequence. In a randomized and controlled design, 18 healthy males volunteered to perform 40 longer (i.e., 6 s) and 40 shorter (i.e., 3 s) motor task sequences, each comprising isometric contractions (i.e., palmar flexion) from baseline to 20% and 40% MVC subsequent to relaxations from 40% and 20% MVC to baseline. Continuous, synchronized EEG, EMG and torque recordings served to determine alpha-band activity over task-relevant motor areas at distinct torques. Main findings revealed increases in alpha activity during subsequent progressive muscle relaxation (from 20% MVC in long and short: p < .001; from 40% MVC in short: p < .05), whereas modulations in relevant motor areas were not significant (p = .84). It may be suggested that an active task-relevant inhibitory process indicates motor task sequence-related relaxation mirrored by an increasing alpha activity.


Alpha oscillation Isometric EEG EMG Torque Muscle activation 



The authors would like to extend their sincere gratitude to Stefan Schneider for providing research equipment during data collection, and to all those who spend their valuable time participating in the study. The study was funded by an international grant of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD project no. 57320531) awarded to Tobias Vogt.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare no actual or potential conflict of interest, including any financial, personal or other relationships with other people or organisations that could inappropriately influence, or be perceived to influence, the publication of this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Professional Sport Education and Sport QualificationsGerman Sport University CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.Faculty of Sport SciencesWaseda UniversityTokorozawaJapan
  3. 3.Biomechanics Performance Diagnostics LaboratoryOlympic Training Centre RhinelandCologneGermany

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