The effect of alertness and attention on the modulation of the beta rhythm to tactile stimulation

Mia Illman*, Kristina Laaksonen, Mia Liljeström, Harri Piitulainen, Nina Forss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Beta rhythm modulation has been used as a biomarker to reflect the functional state of the sensorimotor cortex in both healthy subjects and patients. Here, the effect of reduced alertness and active attention to the stimulus on beta rhythm modulation was investigated. Beta rhythm modulation to tactile stimulation of the index finger was recorded simultaneously with MEG and EEG in 23 healthy subjects (mean 23, range 19–35 years). The temporal spectral evolution method was used to obtain the peak amplitudes of beta suppression and rebound in three different conditions (neutral, snooze, and attention). Neither snooze nor attention to the stimulus affected significantly the strength of beta suppression nor rebound, although a decrease in suppression and rebound strength was observed in some subjects with a more pronounced decrease of alertness. The reduction of alertness correlated with the decrease of suppression strength both in MEG (left hemisphere r = 0.49; right hemisphere r = 0.49, *p < 0.05) and EEG (left hemisphere r = 0.43; right hemisphere r = 0.72, **p < 0.01). The results indicate that primary sensorimotor cortex beta suppression and rebound are not sensitive to slightly reduced alertness nor active attention to the stimulus at a group level. Hence, tactile stimulus-induced beta modulation is a suitable tool for assessing the sensorimotor cortex function at a group level. However, subjects’ alertness should be maintained high during recordings to minimize individual variability.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14818
Number of pages15
JournalPhysiological Reports
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • beta oscillation
  • event-related desynchronization
  • event-related synchronization
  • vigilance


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