The roles of gamma-band oscillatory synchrony in human visual cognition

Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2009 Jan 1;14:321-32. doi: 10.2741/3246.


Oscillatory synchrony in the gamma (30-120 Hz) range has initially been related both theoretically and experimentally to visual grouping. Its functional role in human visual cognition turns out to be much broader, especially when attention, memory or awareness are concerned. Induced gamma oscillations are thus not related to a single cognitive function, and are probably better understood in terms of a population mechanism taking advantage of the neuron's fine temporal tuning: the 10-30 ms time precision imposed by gamma-band rhythms could favor the selective transmission of synchronized information (attention) and foster synaptic plasticity (memory). Besides, gamma oscillatory synchrony also seems related to the emergence of visual awareness. The recent discovery that gamma oscillations could appear simultaneously in distinct areas at distinct frequencies and with different functional correlates further suggests the existence of a flexible multiplexing schema, integrating frequency bands within the gamma range but also at lower frequency bands. Understanding how and when oscillations at different frequencies interact has become a major challenge for the years to come.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention
  • Cognition*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Vision, Ocular*