Oscillatory Modulation of Neural Communication

Tuesday 2 July 2024, 4:30 pm
PhD candidate
MSc. M.J. ter Wal
Promotor(s)
prof. dr. P.H.E. Tiesinga
Location
Aula

Oscillations are a prominent element of signals recorded from neural tissue, but whether they play a causal or functional role in neural processing remains unclear. In this thesis we study how oscillations affect the sensitivity of neural tissue to new information and the ability of neural circuits to communicate.

Using computer models we identify how oscillations can arise in different types of neural circuits. We next ask how these oscillations influence individual brain cells. We find that cells respond more strongly to oscillatory inputs, because activity in different parts of the cells interacts with each other. Something similar is shown for neural circuits: circuits communicate more or less, depending on the interactions between their oscillations and as a result, can modulate information transfer between brain regions.

Can we use oscillations to study communication within human brains? Here we use recordings from the brains of epilepsy patients, who have electrodes implanted as part of their clinical treatment. We develop an improved method to identify direct functional connections and separate them from noise. We also show that we can identify the processes that lead up to a decision by the patient. This way we can follow the decision making process from one brain region to another.