Tracking keystroke sequences at the cortical level reveals the dynamics of serial order production

Svetlana Pinet, Gary S. Dell, F. Xavier Alario

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Response selection is often studied by examining single responses, although most actions are performed within an over-arching sequence. Understanding processes that order and execute items in a sequence is thus essential to give a complete picture of response selection. In this study, we investigate response selection by comparing single responses and response sequences as well as unimanual and bimanual sequences. We recorded EEG while participants were typing one-or two-keystroke sequences. Irrespective of stimulus modality (visual or auditory), response-locked analysis revealed distinct contra-lateral and ipsilateral components previously associated with activation and inhibition of alternative responses. Unimanual sequences exhibited a similar activation/inhibition pattern as single responses, but with the activation component of the pattern expressed more strongly, reflecting the fact that the hand will be used for two strokes. In contrast, bimanual sequences were associated with successive activation of each of the corresponding motor cortices controlling each keystroke and no traceable inhibitory component. In short, the activation component of the two-keystroke sequence EEG pattern can be understood from the addition of activation components of single-stroke sequences; the inhibition of the hand not being used is only evidenced when that hand is not planned for the next stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1030-1043
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of cognitive neuroscience
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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