Reaction-time movements are internally planned in the brain. Presumably, proactive control in reaction-time movements appears as an inhibitory phase preceding movement execution. We identified the brain activity of reaction-time movements in close proximity to movement onset and compared it with similar self-paced voluntary movements without external command.
We recorded 18 healthy participants performing reaction-time and self-paced fast index finger abductions with 306-sensor magnetoencephalography and electromyography. Reaction-time movements were performed as responses to cutaneous electrical stimulation delivered on the hand radial nerve area. Motor field and movement-evoked field 1 corresponding to the sensorimotor cortex activity during motor execution and afferent feedback after the movement were analyzed with Brainstorm's scouts using regions of interest analysis.
Primary motor and somato sensory cortices were active before and after movement onset. During reaction-time movements, primary motor and somato sensory cortices showed higher activation compared with self-paced movements. In primary motor cortex, stronger preparatory activity was seen in self-paced than in reaction time task.
Both primary motor and somato sensory cortices participated in the movement execution and in the prediction of sensory consequences of movement. Cutaneous stimulation facilitated cortical activation during motor field after reaction-time movements, implying the applicability of cutaneous stimulation in motor rehabilitation.