What Are Brain Waves?

What Are Brain Waves?

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Even the parts of our brains that don’t control physical movement show a lot of rhythm, and that might be integral to how our brains work.
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To learn more, start your googling with these keywords:

neural oscillation: better known as a “brainwave,” a neural oscillation is repetitive, often rhythmic activity in the central nervous system. neurons can sync up with the help of pacemaker cells or structure, or through entrainment.

entrainment: the ability of tons and tons of neurons to quickly sync up is due to something called entrainment – here’s a cool demo of essentially how that works:

central pattern generator: neural networks that produce rhythmic, patterned electrical outputs. CPGs are usually relatively simple neural circuits and are responsible for virtually all the rhythmic motions you see in nature, from jellyfish swimming to human breathing. while we often think of our brains as reaction machines – like, we touch something hot and quickly pull away – central pattern generators don’t need any stimulus to work. you can pull them out of an animal and put them in a petri dish and the neurons will still fire with the same rhythms.

feature binding: when you see your cat and you know right away it’s your cat…well, somehow, your brain is putting together all kinds of information about the object’s shape, size, color, motion, position in your field of vision, and lots of other contextual clues to make that happen. neuroscientists call this “feature binding,” and neural oscillations may be key to pulling it off.

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Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer: Emily Elert (@eelert)
Script Editor: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
Video Illustrator: Ever Salazar (@eversalazar)
Video Director: Emily Elert (@eelert)
Video Narrator: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Alex Reich, Peter Reich, David Goldenberg
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder:

Image Credits:

Snake Crawling – BigfootHD

Greyhound running – Objectivity

Hummingbird – Smarter Every Day

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References:

Buzsaki, G. Personal Communication, October 2017.

Buzsaki, G. (2006) Rhythms of the Brain. Retrieved from

Cabron, J. Personal Communcation, October 2017.

Engel, A.K. and Fries, P. and Singer, W. (2001) Dynamic predictions: Oscillations and synchrony in top–down processing. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2, pp 704-716. Retrieved from

Getting, P.A. (1989) Emerging Principles Governing the Operation of Neural Networks. Annual Review of Neuroscience. Vol. 12:185-204

Llinas, R. Personal Communication, October 2017.

Lisman, J. and Buzsaki, G. (2008) A Neural Coding Scheme Formed by the Combined Function of Gamma and Theta Oscillations. Schizophrenia Bulletin, Volume 34:5, pp 974–980. Retrieved from

Lisman, J. Personal Communication, October 2017.

Marder, E and Calabrese, R.L. (1996) Principles of rhythmic motor pattern generation. Physiological Reviews, 76(3), pp 687-717. Retrieved from

Marder, E. Personal Communication, October 2017.

Singer, W. Personal Communication, October 2017.

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