Time-frequency and ERP analyses of EEG to characterize anticipatory postural adjustments in a bimanual load-lifting task


  • Barlaam Fanny
  • Descoins Médéric
  • Bertrand Olivier
  • Hasbroucq Thierry
  • Vidal Franck
  • Assaiante Christine
  • Schmitz Christina


  • Anticipation
  • Posture
  • Coordination
  • Motor
  • Mu desynchronization
  • ERP
  • EMG
  • Kinematics

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Anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) compensate in advance for the destabilizing effect of a movement. This study investigated the specific involvement of each primary motor cortex (M1) during a bimanual load-lifting task in which subjects were required to maintain a stable forearm position during voluntary unloading. Kinematics, electromyographic, and electroencephalographic (EEG) data were recorded in eight right-handed healthy subjects lifting a load placed on their left forearm. Two EEG analyses were performed: a time–frequency (TF) analysis and an event-related potential (ERP) analysis. The TF analysis revealed a mean power decrease in the mu rhythm over the left and right M1 concomitant with lifting onset. Each decrease showed specific features: over the right M1, contralateral to the postural forearm, there was a steeper slope and a greater amplitude than over the left M1. Although a mu rhythm desynchronization has until now been the signature of cortical activity related to a motor component, we show that it can also be related to postural stabilization. We discuss the involvement of the mu rhythm desynchronization over the postural M1 in the high temporal precision enabling efficient APAs. ERP analysis showed a negative wave over the left M1 and a concomitant positive wave over the right M1. While the negative wave classically reflects M1 recruitment related to the forthcoming lifting, the novelty here is that the positive wave reflects the transmission of inhibitory commands toward the postural forearm.

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