The functional importance of rhythmic activity in the brain

Curr Biol. 2012 Aug 21;22(16):R658-63. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.06.061.


Oscillations in brain activity have long been known, but many fundamental aspects of such brain rhythms, particularly their functional importance, have been unclear. As we review here, new insights into these issues are emerging from the application of intervention approaches. In these approaches, the timing of brain oscillations is manipulated by non-invasive brain stimulation, either through sensory input or transcranially, and the behavioural consequence then monitored. Notably, such manipulations have led to rapid, periodic fluctuations in behavioural performance, which co-cycle with underlying brain oscillations. Such findings establish a causal relationship between brain oscillations and behaviour, and are allowing novel tests of longstanding models about the functions of brain oscillations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy
  • Humans