Unveiling neural coupling within the sensorimotor system: directionality and nonlinearity

Yuan Yang, Julius P.A. Dewald, Frans C.T. van der Helm, Alfred C. Schouten

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neural coupling between the central nervous system and the periphery is essential for the neural control of movement. Corticomuscular coherence is a popular linear technique to assess synchronised oscillatory activity in the sensorimotor system. This oscillatory coupling originates from ascending somatosensory feedback and descending motor commands. However, corticomuscular coherence cannot separate this bidirectionality. Furthermore, the sensorimotor system is nonlinear, resulting in cross-frequency coupling. Cross-frequency oscillations cannot be assessed nor exploited by linear measures. Here, we emphasise the need of novel coupling measures, which provide directionality and acknowledge nonlinearity, to unveil neural coupling in the sensorimotor system. We highlight recent advances in the field and argue that assessing directionality and nonlinearity of neural coupling will break new ground in the study of the control of movement in healthy and neurologically impaired individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2407-2415
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • corticomuscular interaction
  • cross-frequency coupling
  • granger causality
  • sensorimotor system
  • sensory feedback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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