Entropy is a dimensionless quantity that is used for measuring uncertainty about the state of a system but it can also imply physical qualities, where high entropy is synonymous with high disorder. Entropy is applied here in the context of states of consciousness and their associated neurodynamics, with a particular focus on the psychedelic state. The psychedelic state is considered an exemplar of a primitive or primary state of consciousness that preceded the development of modern, adult, human, normal waking consciousness. Based on neuroimaging data with psilocybin, a classic psychedelic drug, it is argued that the defining feature of “primary states” is elevated entropy in certain aspects of brain function, such as the repertoire of functional connectivity motifs that form and fragment across time. Indeed, since there is a greater repertoire of connectivity motifs in the psychedelic state than in normal waking consciousness, this implies that primary states may exhibit “criticality,” i.e., the property of being poised at a “critical” point in a transition zone between order and disorder where certain phenomena such as power-law scaling appear. Moreover, if primary states are critical, then this suggests that entropy is suppressed in normal waking consciousness, meaning that the brain operates just below criticality. It is argued that this entropy suppression furnishes normal waking consciousness with a constrained quality and associated metacognitive functions, including reality-testing and self-awareness. It is also proposed that entry into primary states depends on a collapse of the normally highly organized activity within the default-mode network (DMN) and a decoupling between the DMN and the medial temporal lobes (which are normally significantly coupled). These hypotheses can be tested by examining brain activity and associated cognition in other candidate primary states such as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and early psychosis and comparing these with non-primary states such as normal waking consciousness and the anaesthetized state.
A system of symmetrically coupled identical oscillators with phase lag is presented, which is capable of generating a large repertoire of transient ͑metastable͒ "chimera" states in which synchronization and desynchronization coexist. The oscillators are organized into communities, such that each oscillator is connected to all its peers in the same community and to a subset of the oscillators in other communities. Measures are introduced for quantifying metastability, the prevalence of chimera states, and the variety of such states a system generates. By simulation, it is shown that each of these measures is maximized when the phase lag of the model is close, but not equal, to / 2. The relevance of the model to a number of fields is briefly discussed with particular emphasis on brain dynamics. © 2010 American Institute of Physics. ͓doi:10.1063/1.3305451͔Many complex systems, both natural and artificial, exhibit synchronization phenomena, which can be modeled using weakly coupled oscillators. Most previous synchronization studies focus on stability. Yet many complex systems (such as the human brain) do not converge on stable synchronized states. Rather they are metastable, temporarily dwelling in the vicinity of one stable state before spontaneously migrating away from it toward another. A second feature of many complex systems (including the brain) is competition. In the context of synchronization, this is manifest in so-called chimera states, where one coalition of oscillators synchronizes while rival coalitions of identical oscillators are desynchronized. This short paper presents the first model to exhibit both chimera states and metastability. This is achieved by organizing the oscillators into a community structured (or modular) network (echoing established brain connectivity findings). Measures are introduced to quantify the prevalence of chimera states and metastability. These form the basis of an empirical study that establishes the conditions in which metastability and chimera states are most prevalent. The same study shows (using a novel measure) that the repertoire of metastable states produced under these conditions is also maximized.
Understanding how dynamic changes in brain activity control behavior is a major challenge of cognitive neuroscience. Here, we consider the brain as a complex dynamic system and define two measures of brain dynamics: the synchrony of brain activity, measured by the spatial coherence of the BOLD signal across regions of the brain; and metastability, which we define as the extent to which synchrony varies over time. We investigate the relationship among brain network activity, metastability, and cognitive state in humans, testing the hypothesis that global metastability is "tuned" by network interactions. We study the following two conditions: (1) an attentionally demanding choice reaction time task (CRT); and (2) an unconstrained "rest" state. Functional MRI demonstrated increased synchrony, and decreased metastability was associated with increased activity within the frontoparietal control/dorsal attention network (FPCN/ DAN) activity and decreased default mode network (DMN) activity during the CRT compared with rest. Using a computational model of neural dynamics that is constrained by white matter structure to test whether simulated changes in FPCN/DAN and DMN activity produce similar effects, we demonstate that activation of the FPCN/DAN increases global synchrony and decreases metastability. DMN activation had the opposite effects. These results suggest that the balance of activity in the FPCN/DAN and DMN might control global metastability, providing a mechanistic explanation of how attentional state is shifted between an unfocused/exploratory mode characterized by high metastability, and a focused/constrained mode characterized by low metastability.
Many species of birds, including pigeons, possess demonstrable cognitive capacities, and some are capable of cognitive feats matching those of apes. Since mammalian cortex is laminar while the avian telencephalon is nucleated, it is natural to ask whether the brains of these two cognitively capable taxa, despite their apparent anatomical dissimilarities, might exhibit common principles of organization on some level. Complementing recent investigations of macro-scale brain connectivity in mammals, including humans and macaques, we here present the first large-scale “wiring diagram” for the forebrain of a bird. Using graph theory, we show that the pigeon telencephalon is organized along similar lines to that of a mammal. Both are modular, small-world networks with a connective core of hub nodes that includes prefrontal-like and hippocampal structures. These hub nodes are, topologically speaking, the most central regions of the pigeon's brain, as well as being the most richly connected, implying a crucial role in information flow. Overall, our analysis suggests that indeed, despite the absence of cortical layers and close to 300 million years of separate evolution, the connectivity of the avian brain conforms to the same organizational principles as the mammalian brain.
Current theory proposes that healthy neural dynamics operate in a metastable regime, where brain regions interact to simultaneously maximize integration and segregation. Metastability may confer important behavioral properties, such as cognitive flexibility. It is increasingly recognized that neural dynamics are constrained by the underlying structural connections between brain regions. An important challenge is, therefore, to relate structural connectivity, neural dynamics, and behavior. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a pre-eminent structural disconnection disorder whereby traumatic axonal injury damages large-scale connectivity, producing characteristic cognitive impairments, including slowed information processing speed and reduced cognitive flexibility, that may be a result of disrupted metastable dynamics. Therefore, TBI provides an experimental and theoretical model to examine how metastable dynamics relate to structural connectivity and cognition. Here, we use complementary empirical and computational approaches to investigate how metastability arises from the healthy structural connectome and relates to cognitive performance. We found reduced metastability in large-scale neural dynamics after TBI, measured with resting-state functional MRI. This reduction in metastability was associated with damage to the connectome, measured using diffusion MRI. Furthermore, decreased metastability was associated with reduced cognitive flexibility and information processing. A computational model, defined by empirically derived connectivity data, demonstrates how behaviorally relevant changes in neural dynamics result from structural disconnection. Our findings suggest how metastable dynamics are important for normal brain function and contingent on the structure of the human connectome.
Despite being a fundamental dimension of experience, how the human brain generates the perception of time remains unknown. Here, we provide a novel explanation for how human time perception might be accomplished, based on non-temporal perceptual classification processes. To demonstrate this proposal, we build an artificial neural system centred on a feed-forward image classification network, functionally similar to human visual processing. In this system, input videos of natural scenes drive changes in network activation, and accumulation of salient changes in activation are used to estimate duration. Estimates produced by this system match human reports made about the same videos, replicating key qualitative biases, including differentiating between scenes of walking around a busy city or sitting in a cafe or office. Our approach provides a working model of duration perception from stimulus to estimation and presents a new direction for examining the foundations of this central aspect of human experience.
Modular networks of delay-coupled and pulse-coupled oscillators are presented, which display both transient (metastable) synchronization dynamics and the formation of a large number of "chimera" states characterized by coexistent synchronized and desynchronized subsystems. We consider networks based on both community and small-world topologies. It is shown through simulation that the metastable behaviour of the system is dependent in all cases on connection delay, and a critical region is found that maximizes indices of both metastability and the prevalence of chimera states. We show dependence of phase coherence in synchronous oscillation on the level and strength of external connectivity between communities, and demonstrate that synchronization dynamics are dependent on the modular structure of the network. The long-term behaviour of the system is considered and the relevance of the model briefly discussed with emphasis on biological and neurobiological systems.
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