Event-related desynchronization in reaction time paradigms: A comparison with event-related potentials and corticospinal excitability

L. Leocani, C. Toro, P. Zhuang, C. Gerloff, M. Hallett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To study cortical activity in different motor tasks, we compared event-related desynchronization (ERD) and event-related potentials (ERPs) in different reaction time (RT) paradigms with the time course of corticospinal excitability. Methods: Nine right-handed, normal subjects performed right or left thumb extensions in simple, choice and go/no go auditory RT paradigms. Eight subjects had participated in a previous study evaluating changes in corticospinal excitability during the same paradigms. Twenty-nine EEG channels with electrooculogram and bilateral EMG monitoring were collected. ERPs and ERD of 10 and 18-22 Hz bands were obtained with respect to tone administration and EMG onset. Results: Trials with movement showed lateralized ERP components, corresponding to the motor potential (MP), both in the averages on the tone and on EMG. The MP corresponded well in time and location to the rise in corticospinal excitability on the moving side observed in the previous study. Sensorimotor ERD, followed by event-related synchronization (ERS), was present for trials with movements and for the no go. ERD was present contralaterally during movement preparation and in no go trials, while it was bilateral during motor execution. No go ERD was followed more rapidly by ERS than in trials with movement. This finding suggests that in no go trials, there is a brief active process in the sensorimotor areas. ERD and ERS do not correspond, respectively, in time and location to increases and decreases in corticospinal excitability. In fact, ERD is bilateral during movement execution, when corticospinal inhibition of the side at rest is observed. Contralateral no go ERS occurs later than corticospinal inhibition, which is bilateral. Conclusions: These findings may suggest that ERD is compatible with both corticospinal activation and inhibition, ERS indicating the removal of either, resulting in cortical idling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)923-930
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Choice
  • Electroencephalography
  • Event-related desynchronization/synchronization
  • Go/no go
  • Reaction time
  • Simple

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Event-related desynchronization in reaction time paradigms: A comparison with event-related potentials and corticospinal excitability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this