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Author(s) Storzer, L., Butz, M., Hirschmann, J., Abbasi, O., Gratkowski, M., Saupe, D., Schnitzler, A., Dalal, S.
Title Bicycling and walking are associated with different cortical oscillatory dynamics
Abstract Although bicycling and walking involve similar complex coordinated movements, surprisingly Parkinson’s patients with freezing of gait typically remain able to bicycle despite severe difficulties walking. This observation suggests functional differences in the motor networks subserving bicycling and walking. However, a direct comparison of brain activity related to bicycling and walking has never been performed, neither in healthy participants nor in patients. Such a comparison could potentially help elucidating the cortical involvement in motor control and the mechanisms through which bicycling ability may be preserved in patients with freezing of gait. The aim of this study was to contrast the cortical oscillatory dynamics involved in bicycling and walking in healthy participants. To this end, EEG and EMG data of 14 healthy participants were analyzed, who cycled on a stationary bicycle at a slow cadence of 40 revolutions per minute (rpm) and walked at 40 strides per minute (spm), respectively. Relative to walking, bicycling was associated with a stronger power decrease in the high beta band (23-35 Hz) during movement initiation and execution, followed by a stronger beta power increase after movement termination. Walking, on the other hand, was characterized by a stronger and persisting alpha power (8-12 Hz) decrease. Both bicycling and walking exhibited movement cycle-dependent power modulation in the 24-40 Hz range that was correlated with EMG activity. This modulation was significantly stronger in walking. The present findings reveal differential cortical oscillatory dynamics in motor control for two types of complex coordinated motor behavior, i.e., bicycling and walking. Bicycling was associated with a stronger sustained cortical activation as indicated by the stronger high beta power decrease during movement execution and less cortical motor control within the movement cycle. We speculate this to be due to the more continuous nature of bicycling demanding less phase-dependent sensory processing and motor planning, as opposed to walking.