INS Topical Seminar – Christian Kell (Frankfurt)
“Time after time – endogenous neural clocks serving information coding and perception”
Topology has prompted decades of Neuroscientists to focus on the spatial aspects of brain function. Research on the temporal aspects of neural processing like event-related potentials has revealed neural processing cascades that are easily interpretable by the linearly reasoning mind. It is only within the last decades that the role of neural oscillations in cognition has been tentatively discovered.
In this talk I will present data on endogenous rhythmic, predictable cyclic changes in neural activity covering two different extremes of the temporal spectrum. First, electrocorticography recordings during verbal working memory tasks reveal that neural oscillations, particularly in the beta band, endogenously code linguistic information, which argues for an active role for neural oscillations in coding language. Second, the results of a functional imaging study investigating the effects of Time of day on brain activity identify suppression of spontaneous brain activity in sensory cortices at times of civil twilight as an endogenous mechanism that improves close-to-threshold perception at those times of day.
The brain’s capacity to actively structure time on multiple scales by means of oscillations and aligning those with rhythmic regularities in the environment seems to constitute a scale-free characteristic of neural processing underlying human cognition.
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