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EEG: brainwave generation, questions

Sydney M Lamb smlamb at OWLNET.RICE.EDU
Mon Feb 5 11:17:53 EST 1996

On Fri, 2 Feb 1996, Alan J. Robinson wrote:
> Brainwaves tend to be a mix of different frequencies, with the 
> frequency content varying quite markedly in different brain states 
> such as the different stages of sleep.
> How the brain generates these waves and what purpose they serve is 
> still a mystery, like many aspects of brain functioning.  (These waves 
> have been known since the early part of the 20th century, when the EEG 
> was first developed.)
> I believe that when Sir John Eccles was at Oxford he observed the 
> related phenomenon of sychronization of neural firing between 
> different parts of the cortex.  After something like 40ms 
> following presentation of a visual stimulus, neurons which are 
> quite far apart would suddenly become synchronized.  This seemed 
> impossible to Eccles, based on what was then known about the 
> architecture of the brain and how neurons worked.  He mentioned this 
> to his physicist friends, and started a competition among scientists 
> which continues to this day to see who can come up with the most 
> bizzare theory of how neurons work.  <g>

This phenomenon may be explained by the theory of Antonio Damasio, 
described (among other places) in his "Synchronous activation in multiple 
cortical regions: A mechanism for recall."  Seminars in the
Neurosciences, 2.287-296, 1990.


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