2022 ABN Fellowship
Brain Waves, Bandwidth, and Behavioural Flexibility in Health and Disease
Mammalian brains exhibit a remarkable ability to reconfigure the way that different areas communicate. For instance, the same language centre can either process visual or auditory information. It has been proposed that our ability to switch between different information streams involves brain waves. Such waves consist of waxing and waning synchronization of electrical signals from groups of neurons (brain cells). Importantly, abnormal brain waves are seen in diseases such as epilepsy and encephalitis, and in common disordered brain states such as delirium and psychosis.
All communication systems require energetically expensive infrastructure with limited bandwidth. To provide flexible selective communication at scale and rapidly, these systems must use ‘multiplexing’ - the process of combining multiple signals into a single signal over a shared medium. Signals can be separated in time (e.g. Northern Line from Kings Cross to either Edgware every 3 minutes or High Barnet every 5 minutes), (2) by frequency (e.g. different AM radio stations) or (3) in space (e.g. different lanes on the highway).
Although correlational and computational evidence supports the idea that brain waves can implement multiplexing by time and frequency, definitive evidence is lacking. This research proposal aims to fill this gap, by manipulating the frequency, amplitude and phase of on-going brain waves in visual perception tasks in mouse models of health and neurological disorders, where gamma-frequency (25-140Hz) waves affects perception.