Cortical EEG alpha rhythms reflect task-specific somatosensory and motor interactions in humans

Claudio Babiloni, Claudio Del Percio, Lars Arendt-Nielsen, Andrea Soricelli, Gian Luca Romani, Paolo Maria Rossini, Paolo Capotosto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)


Anticipating sensorimotor events allows adaptive reactions to environment with crucial implications for self-protection and survival. Here we review several studies of our group that aimed to test the hypothesis that the cortical processes preparing the elaboration of sensorimotor interaction is reflected by the reduction of anticipatory electroencephalographic alpha power (about 8-12Hz; event-related desynchronization, ERD), as an index that regulate task-specific sensorimotor processes, accounted by high-alpha sub-band (10-12Hz), rather than a general tonic alertness, accounted by low-alpha sub-band (8-10Hz). In this line, we propose a model for human cortical processes anticipating warned sensorimotor interactions. Overall, we reported a stronger high-alpha ERD before painful than non-painful somatosensory stimuli that is also predictive of the subjective evaluation of pain intensity. Furthermore, we showed that anticipatory high-alpha ERD increased before sensorimotor interactions between non-painful or painful stimuli and motor demands involving opposite hands. In contrast, sensorimotor interactions between painful somatosensory and sensorimotor demands involving the same hand decreased anticipatory high-alpha ERD, due to a sort of sensorimotor "gating" effect. In conclusion, we suggest that anticipatory cortical high-alpha rhythms reflect the central interference and/or integration of ascending (sensory) and descending (motor) signals relative to one or two hands before non-painful and painful sensorimotor interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1936-1945
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Alpha rhythms
  • Event-related desynchronization/synchronization (ERD/ERS)
  • Expectancy
  • High-resolution electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Pain
  • Sensorimotor interactions


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