December 23, 2013

Sharp waves help learning

IST Austria professor Jozsef Csicsvari explores new role of sharp brainwaves

Fast oscillatory patterns called Sharp wave/ripple (SWR, 150–250Hz) oscillations usually occur in the hippocampus during sleep. These SWRs have long been postulated to be involved in memory consolidation. However, more recent work has investigated SWRs that occur during active waking behavior: findings that suggest that SWRs may also play a role in cell assembly strengthening or spatial working memory. Do such theories of SWR function apply to animal learning? A review by IST Austria Professor Jozsef Csicsvari and his collaborator from the University of Oxford, David Dupret, published on December 23 in the Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society discusses how general theories linking SWRs to memory-related function may explain mechanisms related to rodent spatial learning and to the associated stabilisation of new cognitive maps in the hippocampus.

For more see the paper at