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NeuroImage: Clinical



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The healthy brain is able to maintain a stable balance between bottom-up sensory processing and top-down cognitive control. The neurotransmitter acetylcholine plays a substantial role in this. Disruption of this balance could contribute to symptoms occurring in psychosis, including subtle disruption of motor control and aberrant appropriation of salience to external stimuli; however the pathological mechanisms are poorly understood. On account of the role beta oscillations play in mediating cognitive control, investigation of beta oscillations is potentially informative about such mechanisms. Here, we used magnetoencephalography to investigate the effect of the acetylcholinesterase-inhibitor, galantamine, on beta oscillations within the sensorimotor region during both a sensorimotor task and a relevance–modulation task in healthy participants, employing a double blind randomized placebo controlled cross-over design. In the galantamine condition, we found a significant reduction in the post-movement beta rebound in the case of executed movements and also in a planned but not executed movement. In the latter case, the effect was significantly greater following task-relevant compared with irrelevant stimuli. The results suggest that the action of galantamine reduces the influence of top-down cognitive processing relative to bottom-up perceptual processing in a manner resembling changes previously reported in schizophrenia.