Differential impact of movement on the alpha and gamma dynamics serving visual processing

Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham, Alex I. Wiesman, Christine M. Embury, Mikki Schantell, Timothy R. Joe, Jacob A. Eastman, Tony W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Visual processing is widely understood to be served by a decrease in alpha activity in occipital cortices, largely concurrent with an increase in gamma activity. Although the characteristics of these oscillations are well documented in response to a range of complex visual stimuli, little is known about how these dynamics are impacted by concurrent motor responses, which is problematic as many common visual tasks involve such responses. Thus, in the current study, we used magnetoencephalography (MEG) and modified a well-established visual paradigm to explore the impact of motor responses on visual oscillatory activity. Thirty-four healthy adults viewed a moving gabor (grating) stimulus that was known to elicit robust alpha and gamma oscillations in occipital cortices. Frequency and power characteristics were assessed statistically for differences as a function of movement condition. Our results indicated that occipital alpha significantly increased in power during movement relative to no movement trials. No differences in peak frequency or power were found for gamma responses between the two movement conditions. These results provide valuable evidence of visuomotor integration and underscore the importance of careful task design and interpretation, especially in the context of complex visual processing, and suggest that even basic motor responses alter occipital visual oscillations in healthy adults. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Processing of visual stimuli is served by occipital alpha and gamma activity. Many studies have investigated the impact of visual stimuli on motor cortical responses, but few studies have systematically investigated the impact of motor responses on visual oscillations. We found that when participants are asked to move in response to a visual stimulus, occipital alpha power was modulated whereas gamma responses were unaffected. This suggests that these responses have dis-sociable roles in visuomotor integration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)928-937
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • MEG
  • magnetoencephalography
  • occipital cortex
  • oscillations
  • peak frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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