A future for neuronal oscillation research

Brain Neurosci Adv. 2019 Mar 1;2:2398212818794827. doi: 10.1177/2398212818794827. eCollection Jan-Dec 2018.


Neuronal oscillations represent the most obvious feature of electrical activity in the brain. They are linked in general with global brain state (awake, asleep, etc.) and specifically with organisation of neuronal outputs during sensory perception and cognitive processing. Oscillations can be generated by individual neurons on the basis of interaction between inputs and intrinsic conductances but are far more commonly seen at the local network level in populations of interconnected neurons with diverse arrays of functional properties. It is at this level that the brain's rich and diverse library of oscillatory time constants serve to temporally organise large-scale neural activity patterns. The discipline is relatively mature at the microscopic (cell, local network) level - although novel discoveries are still commonplace - but requires a far greater understanding of mesoscopic and macroscopic brain dynamics than we currently hold. Without this, extrapolation from the temporal properties of neurons and their communication strategies up to whole brain function will remain largely theoretical. However, recent advances in large-scale neuronal population recordings and more direct, higher fidelity, non-invasive measurement of whole brain function suggest much progress is just around the corner.

Keywords: Alpha; beta; cognition; coherence; cross-frequency coupling; delta; electroencephalogram; filtering; neuron; population; resonance; synapse; theta.

Publication types

  • Review