Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Beyond the Beta Rebound: Post-Task Responses in Oscillatory Activity follow Cessation of Working Memory Processes

Coleman, Sebastian C.; Seedat, Zelekha A.; Whittaker, Anna C.; Lenartowicz, Agatha; Mullinger, Karen J.


Sebastian C. Coleman

Anna C. Whittaker

Agatha Lenartowicz


Post-task responses (PTRs) are transitionary responses occurring for several seconds between the end of a stimulus/task and a period of rest. The most well-studied of these are beta band (13 – 30 Hz) PTRs in motor networks following movement, often called post-movement beta rebounds, which have been shown to differ in patients with schizophrenia and autism. Previous studies have proposed that beta PTRs reflect inhibition of task-positive networks to enable a return to resting brain activity, scaling with cognitive demand and reflecting cortical self-regulation. It is unknown whether PTRs are a phenomenon of the motor system, or whether they are a more general self-modulatory property of cortex that occur following cessation of higher cognitive processes as well as movement. To test this, we recorded magnetoencephalography (MEG) responses in 20 healthy participants to a working-memory task, known to recruit cortical networks associated with higher cognition. Our results revealed PTRs in the theta, alpha and beta bands across many regions of the brain, including the dorsal attention network (DAN) and lateral visual regions. These PTRs increased significantly (p < 0.05) in magnitude with working-memory load, an effect which is independent of oscillatory modulations occurring over the task period as well as those following individual stimuli. Furthermore, we showed that PTRs are functionally related to reaction times in left lateral visual (p < 0.05) and left parietal (p < 0.1) regions, while the oscillatory responses measured during the task period are not. Importantly, motor PTRs following button presses did not modulate with task condition, suggesting that PTRs in different networks are driven by different aspects of cognition. Our findings show that PTRs are not limited to motor networks but are widespread in regions which are recruited during the task. We provide evidence that PTRs have unique properties, scaling with cognitive load and correlating significantly with behaviour. Based on the evidence, we suggest that PTRs inhibit task-positive network activity to enable a transition to rest, however, further investigation is required to uncover their role in neuroscience and pathology.


Coleman, S. C., Seedat, Z. A., Whittaker, A. C., Lenartowicz, A., & Mullinger, K. J. (2023). Beyond the Beta Rebound: Post-Task Responses in Oscillatory Activity follow Cessation of Working Memory Processes. NeuroImage, 265, Article 119801.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 5, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 10, 2022
Publication Date Jan 1, 2023
Deposit Date Dec 6, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 10, 2022
Journal NeuroImage
Electronic ISSN 1095-9572
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 265
Article Number 119801
Keywords Cognitive Neuroscience; Neurology
Public URL
Publisher URL