Time to move again: Does the bereitschaftspotential covary with demands on internal timing?

Rolf Verleger*, Mechthild Haake, Alexandra Baur, Kamila Śmigasiewicz

*Corresponding author for this work
2 Citations (Scopus)


When Bereitschaftspotentials (BPs) are measured, participants are required to voluntarily perform a predefined number of identical movements, with varying intervals between movements, exceeding some obligatory minimum interval. Participants might cope with these demands on timing by installing a slow, broadly tuned rhythm of activation, serving as an internal trigger for executing movements in time. The BP might reflect the rising phase of this activation, culminating at the movement. If so (i) not only should BP amplitudes become larger, but BPs should also have their onsets earlier before movements when longer minimum intervals are required between movements (Experiment 1). Further, (ii) BP amplitudes should covary with demands on internal timing: decrease when internal timing is less necessary and increase in the other case. Variation of timing demands was realized by requiring participants to count vs. not to count the seconds between movements (Experiment 1) and by regular vs. irregular vs. no ticking of a clock (Experiment 2). Prediction (i) was confirmed while prediction (ii) was not. Thus, BP onsets did vary in accordance with the temporal constraints about when the movements should be performed, suggesting some relation to timing mechanisms, but we could not provide evidence for the notion that the process reflected by BPs is this timing mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number642
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberDEC2016
Publication statusPublished - 21.12.2016

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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