The rhythm and melody of a piece of music is only conveyed successfully by an orchestra when each note is precisely timed, and when each instruments’ „voice“ is synchronized. The brain can also be considered an orchestra, with different brain regions representing „instruments“ and each neuron being a precisely time note. As in an orchestra, these components must coordinate their parts to create a meaningful „melody.“ Network oscillations have gained interest as an energy-efficient strategy for the organization and communication both within and between brain regions. In humans and animals oscillatory brain activity emerges very early in life, being already present in utero. While it is now known that these oscillations actively contribute to sensory perception and cognition in the adult brain, their function during development is still largely unknown.
Our group aims at elucidating the mechanisms underlying the maturation of neuronal networks under physiological and pathophysiological conditions. In particular, we assess the role of early network oscillations for the development of local and long-range communication in the brain in relationship with the emergence of cognitive behavior and multisensory perception. For this, we combine state-of-the-art electrophysiological methods and optogenetics with imaging and behavioral assessment. The following main topics are currently being investigated: