Seminar Series

"Neural synchrony as a mechanism for pathology and development in cortical networks."

Abstract: Neural oscillations and their synchronization may represent a versatile signal to realize flexible communication within and between cortical areas. By now, there is extensive evidence to suggest that cognitive functions depending on coordination of istributed neural responses, such as perceptual grouping, attention-dependent stimulus selection, subsystem integration, working memory and onsciousness, are associated with synchronized oscillatory activity in the theta-, alpha-, beta- and gamma-band, suggesting a functional mechanism of neural oscillations in cortical networks. In addition to their role in normal brain functioning, there is ncreasing evidence that altered oscillatory activity may be associated with certain neuropsychiatric isorders, such as schizophrenia and autism. In my presentation, I will summarize recent findings rom EEG/MEG experiments in our group that suggest the presence of reduced long-range and local synchronisation in cortical networks in schizophrenia. In addition, we can show that during human development, oscillations and their synchronisation undergo important maturational changes that are particular pronounced during adolescence, a evelopment period that is associated with the onset of psychosis. Taken together, these findings suggest that neural synchrony may be a core thophysiological mechanism in schizophrenia that is consistent with the involvement and possible dysfunction of neural oscillations in early development of cortical circuits and with the delayed manifestation of the disorder in late adolescence.