Diverse Phase Relations among Neuronal Rhythms and Their Potential Function

Trends Neurosci. 2016 Feb;39(2):86-99. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2015.12.004. Epub 2016 Jan 8.


Neuronal oscillations at nearby sites in the brain often show phase relations that are consistent across time, yet diverse across space. We discuss recent demonstrations of this phase relation diversity, and show that, contrary to earlier beliefs, this diversity is a general property of oscillations that is neither restricted to low-frequency oscillations nor to periods outside of stimulus processing. Arguing for the computational relevance of phase relation diversity, we discuss that it can be modulated by sensory and motor events, and put forward the idea that phase relation diversity may support effective neuronal communication by (i) enhancing selectivity and (ii) allowing for the concurrent segregation of multiple information streams.

Keywords: correlated neuronal activity; neuronal oscillations; phase relations; selective neuronal communication; travelling waves.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*