Inter-and Intra-individual Variability in Brain Oscillations During Sports Motor Imagery

Selina Christin Wriessnegger*, Clemens Brunner, Gernot Müller-Putz, Andreea Ioana Sburlea

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this work was to re-evaluate electrophysiological data from a previous study on motor imagery (MI) with a special focus on observed inter- and intra-individual differences. More concretely, we investigated event-related desynchronization/synchronization patterns during sports MI (playing tennis) compared with simple MI (squeezing a ball) and discovered high variability across participants. Thirty healthy volunteers were divided in two groups; the experimental group (EG) performed a physical exercise between two imagery sessions, and the control group (CG) watched a landscape movie without physical activity. We computed inter-individual differences by assessing the dissimilarities among subjects for each group, condition, time period, and frequency band. In the alpha band, we observe some clustering in the ranking of the subjects, therefore showing smaller distances than others. Moreover, in our statistical evaluation, we observed a consistency in ranking across time periods both for the EG and for the CG. For the latter, we also observed similar rankings across conditions. On the contrary, in the beta band, the ranking of the subjects was more similar for the EG across conditions and time periods than for the subjects of the CG. With this study, we would like to draw attention to variability measures instead of primarily focusing on the identification of common patterns across participants, which often do not reflect the whole neurophysiological reality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number576241
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology


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