Bimanual coordination requires the functional integration of the activity in various cortical, subcortical, spinal, and peripheral neural structures. We challenged this functional integration by destabilizing bimanual 5:8 tapping through an increase in movement tempo, while measuring brain and muscle activity using magnetoencephalography and electromyography. Movement instabilities were characterized by a drop in frequency locking. Time-frequency analysis revealed movement-related beta amplitude modulation in bilateral motor areas as well as movement-related corticospinal entrainment. Both of these synchronization patterns depended on movement tempo suggesting that the timescale needed for the upregulation and downregulation of beta synchrony in rhythmic tapping poses constraints on motor performance. Bilateral phase locking over movement cycles appeared to be mediated by beta-frequency oscillations and constrained by its phase dynamics. The timescale of beta synchrony thus seems to play a key role in achieving timed phase synchrony in the motor cortex and along the neural axis. Once event-related desynchronization-synchronization cycles cannot be build up properly, inhibition may become inadequate, resulting in a reduction of the stability of performance, which may eventually become unstable.
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