Mu rhythm

Mu rhythm

Mu rhythm (μ rhythm) is a kind of brain wave rhythm measured using Electroencephalography that has a maximal amplitude of somatosensory cortices at rest. It is also called arciform rhythm because of the shape of the waveforms.


Usually encompassed in the alpha range (8-12Hz), it is strongly suppressed during the performance of contralateral motor acts. Modulation of the μ rhythm is believed to reflect the electrical output of the synchronization of large portions of pyramidal neurons of the motor cortex which control the hand and arm movement when inactive. In 1950 Gastaut and his coworkers reported desynchronization of these rhythms not only during active movements of their subjects, but also while the subjects observed actions executed by someone else.[1][2] These results were later confirmed by additional research groups,[3][4][5] including a study using subdural electrode grids in epileptic patients.[6] The latter study showed mu suppression while the patients observed moving body parts in somatic areas of the cortex that corresponded to the body part moved by the actor. Further studies have shown that the mu rhythms can also be desynchronized by imaging actions[7][8] and by passively viewing point-light biological motion.[9] Current research concerning the mu rhythm is concerned with the development of this rhythm in infancy, its possible links to the human mirror neuron system, and the implications of the sensorimotor origins of this rhythm.


  1. ^ Cohen-Seat, G., Gastaut, H., Faure, J., & Heuyer, G. (1954). Etudes experimentales de l’activite nerveuse pendant la projection cinematographique. Rev. Int. Filmologie, 5, 7-64.
  2. ^ Gastaut, H. J., & Bert, J. (1954). EEG changes during cinematographic presentation. Electroencephalogr. Clin. Neurophysiol., 6, 433-444.
  3. ^ Cochin, S., Barthelemy, C., Lejeune, B., Roux, S., & Martineau, J. (1998). Perception of motion and qEEG activity in human adults. Electroencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol, 107(4), 287-295.
  4. ^ Cochin, S., Barthelemy, C., Roux, S., & Martineau, J. (1999). Observation and execution of movement: similarities demonstrated by quantified electroencephalography. Eur J Neurosci, 11(5), 1839-1842.
  5. ^ Muthukumaraswamy, S. D., Johnson, B. W., & McNair, N. A. (2004). Mu rhythm modulation during observation of an object-directed grasp. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res, 19(2), 195-201.
  6. ^ Arroyo, S., Lesser, R. P., Gordon, B., Uematsu, S., Jackson, D., & Webber, R. (1993). Functional significance of the mu rhythm of human cortex: an electrophysiologic study with subdural electrodes. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology 87(3), 76-87.
  7. ^ Pfurtscheller, G., Brunner, C., Schlogl, A., & Lopes da Silva, F. H. (2006). Mu rhythm (de)synchronization and EEG single-trial classification of different motor imagery tasks. Neuroimage, 31(1), 153-159.
  8. ^ Pineda, J. A., Allison, B. Z., & Vankov, A. (2000). The effects of self-movement, observation, and imagination on mu rhythms and readiness potentials (RP's): toward a brain–computer interface (BCI). IEEE Trans Rehabil Eng, 8(2), 219-222.
  9. ^ Ulloa, E. R., & Pineda, J. A. (2007). Recognition of point-light biological motion: mu rhythms and mirror neuron activity. Behav Brain Res, 183(2), 188-194.

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