Coupling between human brain activity and body movements: Insights from non-invasive electromagnetic recordings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Research units

  • Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • Basque Center on Cognition
  • Nanyang Technological University
  • Aarhus University
  • University of Montreal


Electroencephalographic and magnetoencephalographic data have characterized two types of brain–body interactions observed during various types of motor actions, “corticokinematic” and “corticomuscular” coupling. Here, we review the literature on these interactions in healthy individuals, discuss several open debates, and outline current limitations and directions for future research. Corticokinematic coupling (commonly referred to as corticokinematic coherence) probes the relationship between activity of sensorimotor network nodes and various movement-related signals (e.g., speed, velocity, acceleration). It is mainly driven by movement rhythmicity during active, passive, and observed dynamic motor actions. It typically predominates at the primary sensorimotor cortex contralateral to the moving limb, occurs at movement frequency and its harmonics, and predominantly reflects the cortical processing of proprioceptive feedback driven by movement rhythmicity in a broad range of dynamic motor actions. Corticomuscular coupling (commonly referred to as corticomuscular coherence) probes the interaction between sensorimotor cortical rhythms and electromyographic (EMG) activity that mainly occurs during steady isometric muscle contraction. We will here focus on the ~20-Hz coupling that is observed during weak isometric contraction and is linked to the modulation of the descending motor command by the ~20-Hz sensorimotor rhythm. This review argues that corticokinematic and corticomuscular couplings have different neural bases. Corticokinematic coupling is mainly driven by afferent signals, while corticomuscular coupling is mainly (but not solely) driven by efferent signals. This distinction should be considered when investigating interactions between brain and body movements.


Original languageEnglish
Article number116177
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Brain-body interaction, Cortico-kinematic coherence, Cortico-muscular coherence, Electroencephalography, Isometric contraction, Magnetoencephalography, Motor actions

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