Prefrontal control over motor cortex cycles at beta frequency during movement inhibition

Silvia Picazio, Domenica Veniero, Viviana Ponzo, Carlo Caltagirone, Joachim Gross, Gregor Thut, Giacomo Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A fully adapted behavior requires maximum efficiency to inhibit processes in the motor domain [1]. Although a number of cortical and subcortical brain regions have been implicated, converging evidence suggests that activation of right inferior frontal gyrus (r-IFG) and right presupplementary motor area (r-preSMA) is crucial for successful response inhibition [2, 3]. However, it is still unknown how these prefrontal areas convey the necessary signal to the primary motor cortex (M1), the cortical site where the final motor plan eventually has to be inhibited or executed. On the basis of the widely accepted view that brain oscillations are fundamental for communication between neuronal network elements [4-6], one would predict that the transmission of these inhibitory signals within the prefrontal-central networks (i.e., r-IFG/M1 and/or r-preSMA/M1) is realized in rapid, periodic bursts coinciding with oscillatory brain activity at a distinct frequency. However, the dynamics of corticocortical effective connectivity has never been directly tested on such timescales. By using double-coil transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography (EEG) [7, 8], we assessed instantaneous prefrontal-to-motor cortex connectivity in a Go/NoGo paradigm as a function of delay from (Go/NoGo) cue onset. In NoGo trials only, the effects of a conditioning prefrontal TMS pulse on motor cortex excitability cycled at beta frequency, coinciding with a frontocentral beta signature in EEG. This establishes, for the first time, a tight link between effective cortical connectivity and related cortical oscillatory activity, leading to the conclusion that endogenous (top-down) inhibitory motor signals are transmitted in beta bursts in large-scale cortical networks for inhibitory motor control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2940-2945
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 15 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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