We studied magnetic signals from the human brain recorded during a second before a self-paced finger movement. Sharp triangular peaks were observed in the averaged signals about 0.7 second before the finger movement. The amplitude of the peaks varied considerably from trial to trial, which indicated that the peaks were concurrent with much longer oscillatory processes. One can cluster trials into distinct groups with characteristic sequences of events. Prominent short trains of pulses in the beta frequency band were identified in the premovement period. This observation suggests that during preparation of the intended movement, cortical activity is well organized in time but differs from trial to trial. Magnetoencephalography can capture these processes with high temporal resolution and allows their study in fine detail.

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