Brain rhythms, complexity and consciousness

Author: Julio Artieda, Director of the Neurosciences area of CIMA and of the Clinical Neurophysiology Service of the University of Pamplona. Clínica Universidad de Navarra
Date of publication: Pamplona, 18 December 2012

summaryThe term brain rhythms, oscillation or oscillatory activity is used to refer to the rhythmic fluctuations of the postsynaptic potentials of a neuron group . It is also used to describe the rhythmic discharge patron saint of the action potentials of a neuron or a neuronal group . Oscillatory activity enables synchronization between neuronal groups from the same cortical area or from different distant areas involved in a motor action, cognitive or perceptual task. It is often a source of confusion to associate the presence of oscillatory activity with synchronization phenomena, since both phenomena, although related, are not equivalent.

Oscillatory activity constitutes a basic mechanism of brain functioning. Oscillatory activity appears at different brain levels, participating in perceptual, cognitive and motor processes. This seminar will review the importance of brain rhythms and their synchronization in perceptual awareness. The topology of neural networks and their dynamics as a complex system, their relationship with oscillations and their role as the neural basis of perceptual consciousness will be discussed.