Making waves in the brain: What are oscillations, and why modulating them makes sense for brain injury

Aleksandr Pevzner, Ali Izadi, Darrin J. Lee, Kiarash Shahlaie, Gene G Gurkoff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result in persistent cognitive, behavioral and emotional deficits. However, the vast majority of patients are not chronically hospitalized; rather they have to manage their disabilities once they are discharged to home. Promoting recovery to pre-injury level is important from a patient care as well as a societal perspective. Electrical neuromodulation is one approach that has shown promise in alleviating symptoms associated with neurological disorders such as in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and epilepsy. Consistent with this perspective, both animal and clinical studies have revealed that TBI alters physiological oscillatory rhythms. More recently several studies demonstrated that low frequency stimulation improves cognitive outcome in models of TBI. Specifically, stimulation of the septohippocampal circuit in the theta frequency entrained oscillations and improved spatial learning following TBI. In order to evaluate the potential of electrical deep brain stimulation for clinical translation we review the basic neurophysiology of oscillations, their role in cognition and how they are changed post-TBI. Furthermore, we highlight several factors for future pre-clinical and clinical studies to consider, with the hope that it will promote a hypothesis driven approach to subsequent experimental designs and ultimately successful translation to improve outcome in patients with TBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number30
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
Issue numberAPR
StatePublished - Apr 7 2016


  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Electrical neuromodulation
  • Hippocampus
  • Oscillations
  • Theta
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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