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A mechanism for cognitive dynamics: neuronal communication through neuronal coherence.

Trends in Cognitive Sciences

physiology, Synaptic Transmission, Pyramidal Tracts, Periodicity, Nonlinear Dynamics, Neurons, Nerve Net, Humans, Cognition, Brain, Biological Clocks, Animals, Action Potentials

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      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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