Friday, April 28, 2006

Neuro WM 2006: Soccer Fans and Neurons

Nice passage on neural coherence and oscillations, stolen from the Pascal Fries' labpage at the FC Donders Centre Nijmegen, NL:

"Imagine ten thousand soccer fans in a stadium. Before the game begins, neighboring fans might talk to each other. They might all have the same names of the players and trainers in their mouths. But as long as they all talk independently, their voices blend into a uniform, smooth noise. Then the game starts and the fans of the two teams start chanting the names of their team's hero. Now, suddenly, one can understand them from a distance. And at the same time, one can tell them into groups and it is clear who belongs to which team.
Neurons in our brain might behave just like soccer fans: Groups of neurons that work together, might “chant” together to state their grouping relationships and to make their voices heard by other neurons. Indeed, it turns out that when studying the activity of multiple neurons simultaneously, one finds that most neurons oscillate in synchrony with others: They send out action potentials together, then pause together for a while and repeat this cycle again and again..."

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