EEG patterns of self-paced movement imaginations towards externally-cued and internally-selected targets

Joana Pereira, Andreea Ioana Sburlea, Gernot Müller-Putz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we investigate the neurophysiological signature of the interacting processes which lead to a single reach-and-grasp movement imagination (MI). While performing this task, the human healthy participants could either define their movement targets according to an external cue, or through an internal selection process. After defining their target, they could start the MI whenever they wanted. We recorded high density electroencephalographic (EEG) activity and investigated two neural correlates: the event-related potentials (ERPs) associated with the target selection, which reflect the perceptual and cognitive processes prior to the MI, and the movement-related cortical potentials (MRCPs), associated with the planning of the self-paced MI. We found differences in frontal and parietal areas between the late ERP components related to the internally-driven selection and the externally-cued process. Furthermore, we could reliably estimate the MI onset of the self-paced task. Next, we extracted MRCP features around the MI onset to train classifiers of movement vs. rest directly on self-paced MI data. We attained performance significantly higher than chance level for both time-locked and asynchronous classification. These findings contribute to the development of more intuitive brain-computer interfaces in which movement targets are defined internally and the movements are self-paced.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13394
Number of pages15
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2018


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