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Trends Neurosci. 2006 Jul;29(7):414-418. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2006.05.007. Epub 2006 May 19.

Early patterns of electrical activity in the developing cerebral cortex of humans and rodents.

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INMED, INSERM U29, 163 route de Luminy, 13273 Marseille, France. Electronic address:
Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology, University of Mainz, Duesbergweg 6, D-55128 Mainz, Germany. Electronic address:


During prenatal and early postnatal development, the cerebral cortex exhibits synchronized oscillatory network activity that is believed to be essential for the generation of neuronal cortical circuits. The nature and functional role of these early activity patterns are of central interest in neuroscience. Much of the research is performed in rodents and in vitro, but how closely do these model systems relate to the human fetal brain? In this review, we compare observations in humans with in vivo and in vitro rodent data, focusing on particular oscillatory activity patterns that share many common features: delta brushes, spindle bursts and spindle-like oscillations. There is considerable evidence that the basic functional properties of immature cortical networks are conserved through mammalian evolution, making the neonatal rodent an excellent model for studying early cortical activity and associated plasticity during the developmental period corresponding to the human fetal stage. This review is part of the INMED/TINS special issue "Nature and nurture in brain development and neurological disorders", based on presentations at the annual INMED/TINS symposium (

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