Volition and the idle cortex: Beta oscillatory activity preceding planned and spontaneous movement

Consciousness and Cognition 16 (2):221-228 (2007)
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Prior to the initiation of spontaneous movement, evoked potentials can be seen to precede awareness of the impending movement by several hundreds of milliseconds, meaning that this recorded neural activity is the result of unconscious processing. This study investigates the neural representations of impending movement with and without awareness. Specifically, the relationship between awareness and ‘idling’ cortical oscillations in the beta range was assessed. It was found that, in situations where there was awareness of the impending movement, pre-movement evoked potentials were associated with a decrease in beta range oscillations. In contrast, when awareness of the impending movement was not present, the onset of the pre-movement potential was associated with tonic levels of beta range oscillations. A model is considered where by distributed neural activity remains outside of conscious awareness through the persistence of tonic slow wave cortical oscillations



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