Task-Modulated Corticocortical Synchrony in the Cognitive-Motor Network Supporting Handwriting

Timo Saarinen, Jan Kujala, Hannu Laaksonen, Antti Jalava, Riitta Salmelin

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Both motor and cognitive aspects of behavior depend on dynamic, accurately timed neural processes in large-scale brain networks. Here, we studied synchronous interplay between cortical regions during production of cognitive-motor sequences in humans. Specifically, variants of handwriting that differed in motor variability, linguistic content, and memorization of movement cues were contrasted to unveil functional sensitivity of corticocortical connections. Data-driven magnetoencephalography mapping (n = 10) uncovered modulation of mostly left-hemispheric corticocortical interactions, as quantified by relative changes in phase synchronization. At low frequencies (~2-13 Hz), enhanced frontoparietal synchrony was related to regular handwriting, whereas premotor cortical regions synchronized for simple loop production and temporo-occipital areas for a writing task substituting normal script with loop patterns. At the beta-to-gamma band (~13-45 Hz), enhanced synchrony was observed for regular handwriting in the central and frontoparietal regions, including connections between the sensorimotor and supplementary motor cortices and between the parietal and dorsal premotor/precentral cortices. Interpreted within a modular framework, these modulations of synchrony mainly highlighted interactions of the putative pericentral subsystem of hand coordination and the frontoparietal subsystem mediating working memory operations. As part of cortical dynamics, interregional phase synchrony varies depending on task demands in production of cognitive-motor sequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1871-1886
Number of pages16
JournalCerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • DICS
  • functional connectivity
  • language production
  • MEG
  • movement sequence


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