Movement-related sensorimotor high-gamma activity mainly represents somatosensory feedback

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Somatosensation plays pivotal roles in the everyday motor control of humans. During active movement, there exists a prominent high-gamma (HG, >50 Hz) power increase in the primary somatosensory cortex (S1), and this provides an important feature in relation to the decoding of movement in a brain-machine interface (BMI). However, one concern of BMI researchers is the inflation of the decoding performance due to the activation of somatosensory feedback, which is not elicited in patients who have lost their sensorimotor function. In fact, it is unclear as to how much the HG component activated in S1 contributes to the overall sensorimotor HG power during voluntary movement. With regard to other functional roles of HG in S1, recent findings have reported that these HG power levels increase before the onset of actual movement, which implies neural activation for top-down movement preparation or sensorimotor interaction, i.e., an efference copy. These results are promising for BMI applications but remain inconclusive. Here, we found using electrocorticography (ECoG) from eight patients that HG activation in S1 is stronger and more informative than it is in the primary motor cortex (M1) regardless of the type of movement. We also demonstrate by means of electromyography (EMG) that the onset timing of the HG power in S1 is later (49 ms) than that of the actual movement. Interestingly, we show that the HG power fluctuations in S1 are closely related to subtle muscle contractions, even during the pre-movement period. These results suggest the following: (1) movement-related HG activity in S1 strongly affects the overall sensorimotor HG power, and (2) HG activity in S1 during voluntary movement mainly represents cortical neural processing for somatosensory feedback.




Ryun, S., Kim, J. S., Jeon, E., & Chung, C. K. (2017). Movement-related sensorimotor high-gamma activity mainly represents somatosensory feedback. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 11(JUL).

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