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Large-scale neural synchronization and coordinated dynamics: a foundational approach

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A fundamental question in neuroscience is how segregation and integration of information takes place by the temporal coordination of differentiated, specialized brain areas. Neural synchronization is often invoked as a mechanism of coordinated activity, and in the last ten years there has been a great effort ...

A fundamental question in neuroscience is how segregation and integration of information takes place by the temporal coordination of differentiated, specialized brain areas. Neural synchronization is often invoked as a mechanism of coordinated activity, and in the last ten years there has been a great effort to understand its significance, to clarify its physiological and computational roles and its relationship with brain rhythms and abnormal brain functioning (as in epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease).

But in a broader sense, synchronization is an old concept, arising from the studies of oscillators in non-linear dynamics. It is indeed a widespread phenomenon, reflecting the coupling between self-oscillating units. However, the association between coupling and coordinated activity is not completely understood in the context of brain dynamics, most critically when this relationship is extended to large networks of interacting neurons. What do we mean when we use the term ‘synchronization’ in neuroscience? How can we measure physical coupling when real experiments can only tell us about temporal statistical correlation? Can we freely use concepts from oscillation theory to describe brain dynamics?

In this Research Topic we welcome contributions from different backgrounds and perspectives to promote a deeper understanding of the relationship between neural synchronization and physical coupling between neuronal networks, and its implications for functional connectivity in the normal and the pathological brain. This topic will include, among others, contributions with the following themes:
1) Foundations of large-scale neural synchronization, based on physical theories of oscillation.
2) The computational role and metabolic cost of neural synchronization, and its relation to brain rhythms.
3) Behavioral and cognitive consequences of oscillatory activity in the human brain.
4) Synthesis and state-of-the-art on measuring neural synchronization in experimental settings.
5) Recent methods for the reconstruction of connectivity in oscillatory networks.
6) Applications of the concept of neural coupling and oscillatory activity in a medical setting, such as monitoring and control of neural synchronization in brain pathologies affecting coordination dynamics.


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