Effects of Congruency on Bereitschaftspotential While Performing a Bimanual Motor Task

  • Meghan McGowan University of Victoria
  • Camille Hémond-Hill University of Victoria
  • Justine Nakazawa University of Victoria
Keywords: Bereitschaftspotential, computer task, congruency, MUSE™, readiness potential


 The bereitschaftspotential (BP)—also known as the readiness potential—is a measure of brain activity that precedes voluntary movement by approximately one second in the supplementary motor area and the contralateral primary motor cortex. Motor task reaction time for bimanual task performance is affected by both the individual and the environment; however, it is unclear whether motor task reaction time (as measured via the BP) is significantly affected by congruency. A congruent motor task is an ipsilateral stimulus (e.g., a stimulus on the right is responded to by the right hand), and an incongruent task is a contralateral stimulus (e.g., a stimulus on the right is responded to by the left hand). Congruency is re-emerging as an important topic in motor learning as it may require different levels of cortical processing. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of congruency on the BP. Participants were asked to complete the computer task, Keyboard Hero, where they pressed keys with both their left and right hands in response to discrete congruent and incongruent stimuli. A MUSE™  apparatus recorded brain activity 1000 ms prior to, and 1000 ms after each stimulus. Results from every participant for the incongruent and congruent trials were averaged and compared using a grand average waveform. Means of accuracy (how often participants pressed the key correctly) and BP for each condition were averaged and compared using a 95% Confidence Interval (CI). Across congruent and incongruent conditions, a non-significant difference (p > 0.05 ) was found in BP (p > 0.59 ), accuracy (p > 0.64 ), and BP within −200  ms to 200 ms (p > 0.31 ). BP and mean accuracy scores were not significantly different between congruent and incongruent conditions, which may be due to only minute differences in brain activity or due to the study’s design. Further research should analyze individual variations of the present study, such as stimulus location, differences in the responding limb, correctness of responses, and the sensory modality being tested

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