Gamma somatosensory cortical oscillations are attenuated during the stance phase of human walking

Sarah Baker, Mike Trevarrow, James Gehringer, Hannah Bergwell, David Arpin, Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham, Tony W. Wilson, Max J. Kurz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is well appreciated that processing of peripheral feedback by the somatosensory cortices plays a prominent role in the control of human motor actions like walking. However, very few studies have actually quantified the somatosensory cortical activity during walking. In this investigation, we used electroencephalography (EEG) and beamforming source reconstruction methods to quantify the frequency specific neural oscillations that are induced by an electrical stimulation that is applied to the right tibial nerve under the following experimental conditions: 1) sitting, 2) standing in place, and 3) treadmill walking. Our experimental results revealed that the peripheral stimulation induced a transient increase in theta-alpha (4−12 Hz; 50−350 ms) and gamma (40−80 Hz; 40−100 ms) activity in the leg region of the contralateral somatosensory cortices. The strength of the gamma oscillations were similar while sitting and standing, but were markedly attenuated while walking. Conversely, the strength of the theta-alpha oscillations were not different across the respective experimental conditions. Prior research suggests the afferent feedback from the Ia sensory fibers are likely attenuated during walking, while afferent feedback from the β polysynaptic sensory fibers are not. We suggest that the attenuated gamma oscillations seen during walking reflect the gating of the Ia afferents, while the similarity of theta-alpha oscillations across the experimental conditions is associated with the afferent information from the type II (Aα and β) polysynaptic sensory fibers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number135090
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - Jul 27 2020


  • Cortical oscillations
  • Electroencephalography
  • Gait
  • Sensory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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