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Journal Article

Visual stimuli evoke rapid activation (120 ms) of sensorimotor cortex for overt but not for covert movements

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Hohlefeld, F. U., Nikulin, V. V., & Curio, G. (2011). Visual stimuli evoke rapid activation (120 ms) of sensorimotor cortex for overt but not for covert movements. Brain Research, 1368, 185-195. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2010.10.035.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-3BE0-1
Overt and covert movements (e.g., motor imagery) have been frequently demonstrated to engage common neuronal substrates in the motor system. However, it is an open question whether this similarity is also present during early stages of stimulus-processing. We utilized the high temporal resolution of multi-channel electroencephalography (EEG) in order to test whether the prior action intention (overt vs. covert movements) differentially modulates early stimulus-processing stages in the cortical sensorimotor system. The subjects performed overt or covert movements contingent upon an instructive visual stimulus (indicating left or right hand performance). We introduced a novel measure, LRPrect, calculated as Lateralized Readiness Potentials from rectified EEG signals. This measure overcomes a problem related to the EEG signal variability due to polarity differences in the spatial distribution of neuronal sources. The LRPrect showed an activation already at 120 ms after stimulus onset (latN120) focally over sensorimotor cortices contralateral to the upcoming hand movement, yet only for overt but not covert movements. Thus the prior action intention differentially routes early stimulus-processing into the sensorimotor system, which might contribute to significantly different behavioral outcomes, i.e., movement generation or inhibition. The present results have implications for studies of motor inhibition and action intention.