This article is part of the Research Topic Origins and consequences of rhythmic cortical activity

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 25 April 2011 | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2011.00040

Propagating waves in human motor cortex

  • 1 Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
  • 2 Committee on Computational Neuroscience, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
  • 3 Section of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Previous studies in non-human primates (NHPs) have shown that beta oscillations (15–30 Hz) of local field potentials (LFPs) in the arm/hand areas of primary motor cortex (MI) propagate as traveling waves across the cortex. These waves exhibited two stereotypical features across animals and tasks: (1) The waves propagated in two dominant modal directions roughly 180° apart, and (2) their propagation speed ranged from 10 to 35 cm/s. It is, however, unknown if such cortical waves occur in the human motor cortex. This study shows that the two properties of propagating beta waves are present in MI of a tetraplegic human patient while he was instructed to perform an instruction delay center-out task using a cursor controlled by the chin. Moreover, we show that beta waves are sustained and have similar properties whether the subject was engaged in the task or at rest. The directions of the successive sustained waves both in the human subject and a NHP subject tended to switch from one dominant mode to the other, and at least in the NHP subject the estimated distance traveled between successive waves traveling into and out of the central sulcus is consistent with the hypothesis of wave reflection between the border of motor and somatosensory cortices. Further, we show that the occurrence of the beta waves is not uniquely tied to periods of increased power in the beta frequency band. These results demonstrate that traveling beta waves in MI are a general phenomenon occurring in human as well as NHPs. Consistent with the NHP data, the dominant directions of the beta LFP waves in human aligned to the proximal to distal gradient of joint representations in MI somatotopy. This consistent finding of wave propagation may imply the existence of a hardwired organization of motor cortex that mediates this spatiotemporal pattern.

Keywords: motor cortex, local field potentials, propagating waves, human subject, non-human primate

Citation: Takahashi K, Saleh M, Penn RD and Hatsopoulos NG (2011) Propagating waves in human motor cortex. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 5:40. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2011.00040

Received: 02 June 2010; Accepted: 30 March 2011;
Published online: 25 April 2011.

Edited by:

Kai J. Miller, University of Washington, USA

Reviewed by:

Kai J. Miller, University of Washington, USA
Timothy J. Buschman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Copyright: © 2011 Takahashi, Saleh, Penn and Hatsopoulos. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

*Correspondence: Nicholas G. Hatsopoulos, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago, 1027 E 57th Street, Room 206, Chicago, IL 60637, USA. e-mail: nicho@uchicago.edu

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