Welcome to week 3 of my blog!
A new week, a new pile of research papers! This week, I learned about neural oscillations in the brain, focusing on alpha, beta, gamma, and theta oscillations. As complicated as this may seem, these oscillations are a reliable and convenient way to assess the impacts of external stimuli on memory and cognitive function. Conveniently, these 4 types of oscillations can be recorded in live animals using an EEG (electroencephalogram). However, other forms for neural oscillations also occur in the brain, including sharp-wave ripples (SWRs), though procedures for recording these oscillations are invasive, typically requiring probes and electrodes to be inserted into the hippocampus. For my research specifically, I am most interested in theta oscillations and SWRs, due to their influence on memory formation.
Image 1: Different forms of neural oscillations.
While theta oscillations and SWRs both originate in the hippocampus, their relationship is complex. These two oscillations are often in competition, meaning that their occurrence is mutually exclusive. When thinking about memory formation, we commonly think of the 4 main steps: encoding, consolidation, storage, and recall/recognition. Theta oscillations are commonly associated with information encoding, while SWRs are responsible for memory consolidation.
In other news, I finished my first online neuroscience course! This class was incredibly helpful in providing me a detailed explanation of neuron electrophysiology. I’m hoping this information will come in handy with the rest of my research. Next week, I’m planning on starting a second neuroscience course, where I will learn about the intricacies of the brain, and how all the different sections come together.
Thanks for reading, and see you guys next week!
“Greek Alphabet Soup – Making Sense of EEG Bands.” 2015. Neurosky.com. 2015. http://neurosky.com/2015/05/greek-alphabet-soup-making-sense-of-eeg-bands/.