Continuous switching between internal and external modes in the brain is a key process of constructing inner models of the outside world. However, how the brain continuously switches between two modes remains elusive. Here, we propose that a large synchronization fluctuation of the brain network emerging only near criticality (i.e., a balanced state between order and disorder) spontaneously creates temporal windows with distinct preferences for integrating internal information of the network and external stimuli. Using a computational model and empirical data analysis during alterations of consciousness in human, we present that synchronized and incoherent networks respectively bias toward internal and external information with specific network configurations. The network preferences are the most prominent in conscious states; however, they disrupt in altered states of consciousness. We suggest that criticality produces a functional platform of the brain capability for continuous switching between two modes, which is crucial for the emergence of consciousness.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience