Traveling Waves in Brains
What we know about brain function has tracked technology. The discovery of weak electrical signals from the surface of the scalp by Hans Berger in 1924 hinted at complex oscillatory activity. Recordings from single neurons in the cerebral cortex by David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel in 1960 made possible by the tungsten microelectrode showed that each neuron in the visual cortex responds selectively to
visual stimuli. The development of microelectrode arrays in the 21st century has revealed a mesoscopic
surprise: The oscillations in the cortex are not synchronous, but are traveling waves across a wide range
of frequency bands. This lecture will focus on global traveling waves that occur when you fall asleep:
Sleep spindles that mediate the consolidation of your daily experiences into long-term memories.
The BRAIN Initiative announced in 2012 has reaped a cornucopia of innovative neurotechnologies that
promise even more exciting breakthroughs ahead.