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Mini Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.01125

Generating brain waves, the power of astrocytes

Yossi Buskila1, 2*,  Alba Bellot-Saez1, 2 and  John W. Morley1
  • 1School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, Australia
  • 2International Centre for Neuromorphic Systemsn, Western Sydney University, Australia

Synchronization of neuronal activity in the brain underlies the emergence of neuronal oscillations termed ‘Brain waves’, which serve various physiological functions and correlate with different behavioural states. It has been postulated that at least ten distinct mechanisms are involved in the formulation of these brain waves, including variations in the concentration of extracellular neurotransmitters and ions, as well as changes in cellular excitability. In this mini-review,​ we highlight the contribution of astrocytes, a subtype of glia, in the formation and modulation of brain waves mainly due to their close association with synapses that allows their bidirectional interaction with neurons, and their syncytium-like activity via gap junctions that facilitate communication to distal brain regions through Ca2+ waves. These capabilities allow astrocytes to regulate neuronal excitability via glutamate uptake, gliotransmission and tight control of the extracellular K+ levels via a process termed K+ clearance. Spatio-temporal synchrony of activity across neuronal and astrocytic networks, both locally and distributed across cortical regions, underpins brain states and thereby behavioral states, and it is becoming apparent that astrocytes play an important role in the development and maintenance of neural activity underlying these complex behavioral states.

Keywords: Brain Waves, oscillations, Astrocytes, spatial buffering, K + clearance

Received: 30 Jul 2019; Accepted: 04 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Buskila, Bellot-Saez and Morley. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Yossi Buskila, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, Campbelltown, 2751, New South Wales, Australia, buskila63@gmail.com