Rhythms of the Nervous System: From Cells to Behavior via Dynamics

Saturday, June 7, 2003 - 10:30am - 11:20am
Keller 3-180
Nancy Kopell (Boston University)
The nervous system produces rhythmic electrical activity in many frequency ranges, and the rhythms displayed during waking are tightly tied to cognitive state. This talk describes ongoing work whose ultimate aim is to understand the uses of these rhythms in sensory processing, cognition and motor control. The method is to address the biophysical underpinnings of the different rhythms and transitions among them, to get clues to how specific important subsets of the cortex and hippocampus process and transform spatio-temporal input. We focus in this talk on the gamma rhythm (30-80 hz), which is associated with attention and awareness, and theta (4-12), associated with active exploration and learning of sequences. Via case studies, we show that different biophysics corresponds to different dynamical structure in the rhythms, with implications for function. The mathematical tools come from dynamical systems, and include the use of low-dimensional maps, probability and geometric singular perturbations.