Do sensorimotor β-oscillations maintain muscle synergy representations in primary motor cortex?

Coherent β-oscillations are a dominant feature of the sensorimotor system yet their function remains enigmatic. We propose that, in addition to cell intrinsic and/or local network interactions, they are supported by activity propagating recurrently around closed neural ‘loops’ between primary motor cortex (M1), muscles, and back to M1 via somatosensory pathways. Individual loops reciprocally connect individual muscle synergies (‘motor primitives’) with their representations in M1, and the conduction time around each loop resonates with the periodic spiking of its constituent neurons/muscles. During β-oscillations, this resonance strengthens within-loop connectivity (via long-term potentiation, LTP), whereas non-resonance between different loops weakens connectivity (via long-term depression, LTD) between M1 representations of different muscle synergies. In this way, β-oscillations help maintain accurate and discrete representations of muscle synergies in M1.

Authors: Aumann TD, Prut Y
Year of publication: 2015
Journal: Trends in Neurosciences, Volume 38, Issue 2, Pages 77-85

Link to publication:


“Working memory”