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November 20 , 2009

Rhythms of the Brain


Studies of mechanisms in the brain that allow complicated things to happen in a coordinated fashion have produced some of the most spectacular discoveries in neuroscience. This book provides eloquent support for the idea that spontaneous neuron activity, far from being mere noise, is actually the source of our cognitive abilities. It takes a fresh look at the co-evolution of structure and function in the mammalian brain, illustrating how self-emerged oscillatory timing is the brains fundamental organizer of neuronal information. The small world-like connectivity of the cerebral cortex allows for global computation on multiple spatial and temporal scales. The perpetual interactions among the multiple network oscillators keep cortical systems in a highly sensitive metastable state and provide energy-efficient synchronizing mechanisms via weak links. In a sequence of cycles, Gyorgy Buzsaki guides the reader from the physics of oscillations through neuronal assembly organization to complex cognitive processing and memory storage. His clear, fluid writing accessible to any reader with some scientific knowledge is supplemented by extensive footnotes and references that make it just as gratifying and instructive a read for the specialist. The coherent view of a single author who has been at the forefront of research in this exciting field, this volume is essential reading for anyone interested in our rapidly evolving understanding of the brain.
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