The role of oscillations and synchrony in cortical networks and their putative relevance for the pathophysiology of schizophrenia

Schizophr Bull. 2008 Sep;34(5):927-43. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbn062. Epub 2008 Jun 17.


Neural oscillations and their synchronization may represent a versatile signal to realize flexible communication within and between cortical areas. By now, there is extensive evidence to suggest that cognitive functions depending on coordination of distributed neural responses, such as perceptual grouping, attention-dependent stimulus selection, subsystem integration, working memory, and consciousness, are associated with synchronized oscillatory activity in the theta-, alpha-, beta-, and gamma-band, suggesting a functional mechanism of neural oscillations in cortical networks. In addition to their role in normal brain functioning, there is increasing evidence that altered oscillatory activity may be associated with certain neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, that involve dysfunctional cognition and behavior. In the following article, we aim to summarize the evidence on the role of neural oscillations during normal brain functioning and their relationship to cognitive processes. In the second part, we review research that has examined oscillatory activity during cognitive and behavioral tasks in schizophrenia. These studies suggest that schizophrenia involves abnormal oscillations and synchrony that are related to cognitive dysfunctions and some of the symptoms of the disorder. Perspectives for future research will be discussed in relationship to methodological issues, the utility of neural oscillations as a biomarker, and the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*