The lifespan trajectory of neural oscillatory activity in the motor system

Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham, Timothy J. McDermott, Mackenzie S. Mills, Alex I. Wiesman, Yu Ping Wang, Julia M. Stephen, Vince D. Calhoun, Tony W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Numerous studies connect beta oscillations in the motor cortices to volitional movement, and beta is known to be aberrant in multiple movement disorders. However, the dynamic interplay between these beta oscillations, motor performance, and spontaneous beta power (e.g., during rest) in the motor cortices remains unknown. This study utilized magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate these three parameters and their lifespan trajectory in 57 healthy participants aged 9–75 years old. Movement-related beta activity was imaged using a beamforming approach, and voxel time series data were extracted from the peak voxels in the primary motor cortices. Our results indicated that spontaneous beta power during rest followed a quadratic lifespan trajectory, while movement-related beta oscillations linearly increased with age. Follow-on analyses showed that spontaneous beta power and the beta minima during movement, together, significantly predicted task performance above and beyond the effects of age. These data are the first to show lifespan trajectories among measures of beta activity in the motor cortices, and suggest that the healthy brain compensates for age-related increases in spontaneous beta activity by increasing the strength of beta oscillations within the motor cortices which, when successful, enables normal motor performance into later life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Beta ERD
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Motor control
  • Movement
  • Precentral gyrus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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