Oscillatory gamma activity in humans and its role in object representation

Trends Cogn Sci. 1999 Apr;3(4):151-162. doi: 10.1016/s1364-6613(99)01299-1.


We experience objects as whole, complete entities irrespective of whether they are perceived by our sensory systems or are recalled from memory. However, it is also known that many of the properties of objects are encoded and processed in different areas of the brain. How then, do coherent representations emerge? One theory suggests that rhythmic synchronization of neural discharges in the gamma band (around 40 Hz) may provide the necessary spatial and temporal links that bind together the processing in different brain areas to build a coherent percept. In this article we propose that this mechanism could also be used more generally for the construction of object representations that are driven by sensory input or internal, top-down processes. The review will focus on the literature on gamma oscillatory activities in humans and will describe the different types of gamma responses and how to analyze them. Converging evidence that suggests that one particular type of gamma activity (induced gamma activity) is observed during the construction of an object representation will be discussed.