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Cortical representation of rhythmic foot movements

Brain Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2008.07.046
  • Foot Movement
  • Gait
  • Corticomuscular Coherence
  • Delay Analysis


Abstract The cortex is involved in rhythmic hand movements. The cortical contribution to rhythmic motor patterns of the feet, however, has never been evaluated in humans. In this study we investigated EEG activity related to rhythmic stepping and tapping movements in 10 healthy subjects. Subjects performed self-paced fast bilateral anti-phase, in-phase and unilateral rhythmic foot movements as well as an isometric cocontraction of the calf muscles, while being seated as relaxed as possible. Surface EMG from the anterior tibial muscles was recorded in parallel with a 64 channel EEG. Power spectra, corticomuscular coherence and corticomuscular delay were calculated. All subjects showed corticomuscular coherence at the stepping frequencies in the central midline region that extended further to the frontal mesial area. The magnitude and the topography of this coherence were equal for the right and left anterior tibial muscle and all movement conditions. During cocontraction there was coherence in the 15–30 Hz range which was refined to the central midline area. EEG-EMG delays were significant in 9 subjects with values between 14 and 26 ms, EMG-EEG feedback was only found in 6 subjects with delays between 25 and 40 ms. We conclude that rhythmic motor patterns of the feet are represented in the cortex, transmitted to the muscles with delays compatible with fast corticospinal transmission and fed back to the cortex. A similar cortical contribution may be important also for gait control in humans.

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