Satu Palva group

Research People Selected publications


Satu Palva, PhD
Docent in Neuroscience, Group Leader
P.O. Box 56, FI-00014 University of Helsinki
Phone: 59603 (internal), +358 50 4484 742
Email: satu.palva at

Our lab investigates the functional relevance of neuronal dynamics and large-scale neuronal interactions in human cognition.

In humans, attention, working memory, and consciousness are fundamental cognitive functions, which are serial, introspectively coherent, and have a limited capacity of a few objects. Furthermore, the behavioral performance in any sustained behavioral task fluctuates in a scale-free manner and is clustered into sequences of similar behaviors. These phenomena and psychophysical task performance are highly variable across individual subjects.

Our lab aims to reveal the systems-level neuronal mechanisms underlying these functions and the variability in behavioral performance. We record neuronal activity with an excellent temporal resolution from healthy human subjects by using magneto- and electroencephalography (M/EEG) and from epileptic patients with intracranial EEG (iEEG). We then use transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to test the causal role of these neuronal activities and interactions in coordinating behavioral performance.

A central topic in our research is to elucidate the functional roles of synchronization and multi-band oscillations in these cognitive functions and the putative role of cross-frequency interactions as a mechanism for the integration of spectrally and temporally distributed processing. We also investigate their functional significance in neuropsychiatric diseases and as well as the changes that cortical oscillations and synchronization undergo during developmental and experience-dependent plasticity.

As a second research line, we address the role of neuronal criticality in shaping the neuronal activity in long time-scales and in sustained behavioral tasks.