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Scientific American: Superslow Brain Waves May Play a Critical Role in Consciousness

Credit: Getty Images

Every few seconds a wave of electrical activity travels through the brain, like a large swell moving through the ocean. Scientists first detected these ultraslow undulations decades ago in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanes of people and other animals at rest–but the phenomenon was thought to be either electrical "noise" or the sum of much faster brain signals and was largely ignored.

Now a study that measured these "infraslow" (less than 0.1 hertz) brain waves in mice suggests they are a distinct type of brain activity that depends on an animal's concious state. But big questions remain about these waves' origin and function.

Continue reading at Scientific American.