Oscillatory activity of the sensorimotor cortex has been reported to show coherence with muscle activity in the 15- to 35-Hz frequency band (β-band) during weak to moderate intensity of isometric contraction. The present study examined the variance of the magnitude of the corticomuscular coherence across a large number of subjects. We quantified the coherence between EEG over the sensorimotor cortex and rectified electromyogram (EMG) from the tibialis anterior muscle during tonic isometric contraction at 30% of maximal effort in 100 healthy young individuals. We estimated the maximal peak of EEG-EMG coherence (Cohmax) and the ratio of the sum of the autopower spectral density function within the β -band to that of all frequency ranges for both EEG (EEG β -PSD) and EMG (EMG β -PSD) signals. The frequency histogram of Cohmax across all subjects showed a broad bell-shaped continuous distribution (range, 0.048-0.816). When the coherence was thresholded at the estimated significance level of P < 0.05 (0.114), 46 out of 100 subjects showed significant EEG-EMG coherence. Cohmax occurred within the β -band in the majority of subjects who showed significant EEG-EMG coherence (n = 43). Furthermore, Cohmax showed significant positive correlations with both EEG β - PSD (r = 0.575, P < 0.001) and EMG β -PSD (r = 0.606, P < 0.001). These data suggest that even during simple tonic isometric contraction, the strength of oscillatory coupling between the sensorimotor cortex and spinal motoneurons varies among individuals and is a contributory factor determining muscle activation patterns such as the degree of grouped discharge in muscle activity within the β -band for each subject.
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