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Epilepsy Behav. 2008 Jul;13(1):25-31. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2008.01.011. Epub 2008 Apr 24.

Gamma, fast, and ultrafast waves of the brain: their relationships with epilepsy and behavior.

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  • 1Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation, University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


Gamma waves, defined as rhythms from 25 to 100 Hz, are reviewed along with fast (100-400 Hz) and ultrafast (400-800 Hz) activity. Investigations on animals, especially those involving interneurons from the hippocampus, are reviewed. Gamma waves and fast rhythms likely play a role in neural communication, reflecting information from the external world to the brain. These rhythms become evident when the GABA-A system shifts from excitation to inhibition; are seen mainly in the hippocampus, the dentate gyrus, and CA(1)-CA(3) system; and are likely involved in long-term memory and cognitive task performance. These waves are also involved in spreading depression, but especially with epileptiform activity, progressively increasing in frequency from the pre-ictal to the ictal state. After status epilepticus, their presence predicts the development of spontaneous seizures. Gamma waves and fast activity have been studied in all sensory modalities, especially visual systems, providing a mechanism for awareness and processing of visual objects. In humans, gamma waves develop in the young, peak at 4-5 years of age, and are observed especially during alertness and after sensory stimulation. These fast rhythms are seen in the majority of seizures, especially in infantile spasms and during ictal activity in extratemporal and regional onsets, and, if low in amplitude, seem to be a good prognostic sign after seizure surgery. They have been studied in all sensory systems and are associated with selective attention, transient binding of cognitive features, and conscious perception of the external world.

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