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      Shaping Functional Architecture by Oscillatory Alpha Activity: Gating by Inhibition

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          Abstract

          In order to understand the working brain as a network, it is essential to identify the mechanisms by which information is gated between regions. We here propose that information is gated by inhibiting task-irrelevant regions, thus routing information to task-relevant regions. The functional inhibition is reflected in oscillatory activity in the alpha band (8–13 Hz). From a physiological perspective the alpha activity provides pulsed inhibition reducing the processing capabilities of a given area. Active processing in the engaged areas is reflected by neuronal synchronization in the gamma band (30–100 Hz) accompanied by an alpha band decrease. According to this framework the brain could be studied as a network by investigating cross-frequency interactions between gamma and alpha activity. Specifically the framework predicts that optimal task performance will correlate with alpha activity in task-irrelevant areas. In this review we will discuss the empirical support for this framework. Given that alpha activity is by far the strongest signal recorded by EEG and MEG, we propose that a major part of the electrophysiological activity detected from the working brain reflects gating by inhibition.

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          Most cited references 100

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          Event-related EEG/MEG synchronization and desynchronization: basic principles.

          An internally or externally paced event results not only in the generation of an event-related potential (ERP) but also in a change in the ongoing EEG/MEG in form of an event-related desynchronization (ERD) or event-related synchronization (ERS). The ERP on the one side and the ERD/ERS on the other side are different responses of neuronal structures in the brain. While the former is phase-locked, the latter is not phase-locked to the event. The most important difference between both phenomena is that the ERD/ERS is highly frequency band-specific, whereby either the same or different locations on the scalp can display ERD and ERS simultaneously. Quantification of ERD/ERS in time and space is demonstrated on data from a number of movement experiments.
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            Neurophysiological investigation of the basis of the fMRI signal.

            Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is widely used to study the operational organization of the human brain, but the exact relationship between the measured fMRI signal and the underlying neural activity is unclear. Here we present simultaneous intracortical recordings of neural signals and fMRI responses. We compared local field potentials (LFPs), single- and multi-unit spiking activity with highly spatio-temporally resolved blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) fMRI responses from the visual cortex of monkeys. The largest magnitude changes were observed in LFPs, which at recording sites characterized by transient responses were the only signal that significantly correlated with the haemodynamic response. Linear systems analysis on a trial-by-trial basis showed that the impulse response of the neurovascular system is both animal- and site-specific, and that LFPs yield a better estimate of BOLD responses than the multi-unit responses. These findings suggest that the BOLD contrast mechanism reflects the input and intracortical processing of a given area rather than its spiking output.
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              A mechanism for cognitive dynamics: neuronal communication through neuronal coherence.

               Pascal Fries (2005)
              At any one moment, many neuronal groups in our brain are active. Microelectrode recordings have characterized the activation of single neurons and fMRI has unveiled brain-wide activation patterns. Now it is time to understand how the many active neuronal groups interact with each other and how their communication is flexibly modulated to bring about our cognitive dynamics. I hypothesize that neuronal communication is mechanistically subserved by neuronal coherence. Activated neuronal groups oscillate and thereby undergo rhythmic excitability fluctuations that produce temporal windows for communication. Only coherently oscillating neuronal groups can interact effectively, because their communication windows for input and for output are open at the same times. Thus, a flexible pattern of coherence defines a flexible communication structure, which subserves our cognitive flexibility.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Front Hum Neurosci
                Front. Hum. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
                Frontiers Research Foundation
                1662-5161
                05 July 2010
                04 November 2010
                2010
                : 4
                Affiliations
                1simpleDonders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands
                Author notes

                Edited by: Thilo Womelsdorf, Robarts Research Institute London, Canada

                Reviewed by: Tobias H. Donner, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands; Stephanie R. Jones, Massachusetts General Hospital, USA

                *Correspondence: Ole Jensen, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, P.O. Box 9101, NL-6500 HB Nijmegen, Netherlands.; e-mail: ole.jensen@ 123456donders.ru.nl
                10.3389/fnhum.2010.00186
                2990626
                21119777
                Copyright © 2010 Jensen and Mazaheri.

                This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and the Frontiers Research Foundation, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.

                Counts
                Figures: 4, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 105, Pages: 8, Words: 8029
                Categories
                Neuroscience
                Hypothesis and Theory Article

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