Conclusions

Knowledge of the electrical and magnetic fields generated by local neuronal networks is of interest to neuroscientists because these signals can give relevant information about the mode of activity of neuronal populations. This is particularly relevant to understanding high-order brain functions, such as perception, action programming, and memory trace formation, because it is becoming increasingly clear that these functions are subserved by dynamical assemblies of neurons. In this respect, knowledge of the properties of the individual neurons is not sufficient. It is necessary to understand how populations of neurons interact and undergo self-organization processes to form dynamical assemblies. The latter constitute the functional substrate of complex brain functions. These neuronal assemblies generate patterns of dendritic currents and action potentials, but these patterns are usually difficult to evaluate experi mentally due to the multitude of parameters and the complexity of the structures. Nevertheless, the concerted action of these assemblies can also be revealed in the local field potentials that may be recorded at the distance of the generators. However, extracting information from local field potentials about the functional state of a local neuronal network poses many nontrivial problems that have to be solved by combining anatomical/physiological with biophysical/mathematical concepts and tools. Indeed, given a certain local field potential, it is not possible to precisely reconstruct the behavior of the underlying neuronal elements since this inverse problem does not have a unique solution. Therefore, it is necessary to assume specific models of the neuronal elements and their interactions in dynamical assemblies in order to make sense of the local field potentials. This implies that it is necessary to construct models that incorporate knowledge about cellular/membrane properties with that of the local circuits, their spatial organization, and how they are modulated by different mechanisms.

I have presented many arguments and suggestions in line with the concept that the synchronized activity of populations of neurons in general, and the occurrence of rhythmic oscillatory behavior of different kinds in particular, is not an epiphenomenon of the functional organization of neuronal networks; rather, brain oscillatory activities can play essential functional roles within the brain.

See Also the Following Articles

ACTION POTENTIAL • CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS • ELECTROENCEPHALOGRAPHY (EEG) • EVENT-RELATED ELECTROMAGNETIC RESPONSES • GABA • ION CHANNELS • LIMBIC SYSTEM • NEOCORTEX • NEURAL NETWORKS • SLEEP DISORDERS • THALAMUS AND THALAMIC DAMAGE

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