Beta band oscillations in motor cortex reflect neural population signals that delay movement onset

  1. Preeya Khanna
  2. Jose M Carmena  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of California, Berkeley, United States


Motor cortical beta oscillations have been reported for decades, yet their behavioral correlates remain disputed. Some studies link beta oscillations to changes in underlying neural activity, but the specific behavioral manifestations of these reported changes remain elusive. To investigate how changes in population neural activity, beta oscillations, and behavior are linked, we recorded multi-scale neural activity from motor cortex while three macaques performed a novel neurofeedback task. Subjects volitionally brought their beta power to an instructed state and subsequently executed an arm reach. Reaches preceded by a reduction in beta power exhibited significantly faster movement onset times than reaches preceded by an increase in beta power. Further, population neural activity was found to shift farther from a movement onset state during beta oscillations that were neurofeedback-induced or naturally occurring during reaching tasks. This finding establishes a population neural basis for slowing during periods of beta oscillatory activity.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Preeya Khanna

    UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Graduate Program in Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Jose M Carmena

    UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Graduate Program in Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-0214-2489


National Science Foundation

  • Preeya Khanna

Defense Sciences Office, DARPA (W911NF-14- 2-0043)

  • Jose M Carmena

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Animal experimentation: All procedures were conducted in compliance with the NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and were approved by the University of California, Berkeley Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (protocol AUP-2014-09-6720)

Reviewing Editor

  1. Pascal Fries, Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI), Germany

Publication history

  1. Received: December 22, 2016
  2. Accepted: May 1, 2017
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: May 3, 2017 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: June 12, 2017 (version 2)


© 2017, Khanna & Carmena

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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  1. Preeya Khanna
  2. Jose M Carmena
Beta band oscillations in motor cortex reflect neural population signals that delay movement onset
eLife 6:e24573.
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