Saturday, February 13, 2010

Research Bytes 2-13-10: Neural synchrony; optimal control theory of movement

Uhlhaas, P. Fre´de´ric, R., Rodriguez, E., Rotarska-Jagiela1,A. & Singer, W. (2010).  Neural synchrony and the development of cortical networks.  Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Vol.14 No.2, 72-80.

Recent data indicate that the synchronisation of oscillatory activity is relevant for the development of cortical circuits as demonstrated by the involvement of neural synchrony in synaptic plasticity and changes in the frequency and synchronisation of neural oscillations during development. Analyses of resting-state and task-related neural synchrony indicate that gamma-oscillations emerge during early childhood and precise temporal coordination through neural synchrony continues to mature until early adulthood. The late maturation of neural synchrony is compatible with changes in the myelination of cortico-cortical connections and with late development of GABAergic neurotransmission. These findings highlight the role of neural synchrony for normal brain development as well as its potential importance for understanding neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and schizophrenia.

Article Outline
Function and mechanisms of neural synchrony in cortical networks
Resting-state oscillations: development of frequency, amplitude and synchronisation
Maturation of steady-state responses
Development of task-related oscillations during motor, cognitive and perceptual processes
Neural synchrony during development: relationship to anatomy and physiology
Neural synchrony during development: implications for psychopathology
Concluding remarks

Diedrichsen, J., Shadmehr, R., & Ivry, R. B. (2010). The coordination of movement: optimal feedback control and
beyond. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14(1), 31-39.

Optimal control theory and its more recent extension, optimal feedback control theory, provide valuable insights into the flexible and task-dependent control of movements. Here, we focus on the problem of coordination, defined as movements that involve multiple effectors (muscles, joints or limbs). Optimal control theory makes quantitative predictions concerning the distribution of work across multiple effectors. Optimal feedback control theory further predicts variation in feedback control with changes in task demands and the correlation structure between different effectors. We highlight two crucial areas of research, hierarchical control and the problem of movement initiation, that need to be developed for an optimal feedback control theory framework to characterise movement coordination more fully and to serve as a basis for studying the neural mechanisms involved in voluntary motor control.

Article Outline
The problem of coordination
Optimal (feedback) control theory
Distribution of work across multiple effectors
Task-dependent feedback control
Structure of movement variability
Initial gating mechanism
Coordination through high-level state estimates
Current limitations and outlook

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