December 3, 2020

Diffuse neural coupling mediates complex network dynamics through the formation of quasi-critical brain states

The biological mechanisms that allow the brain to balance flexibility and integration remain poorly understood.

A potential solution to this mystery may lie in a unique aspect of neurobiology, which is that numerous brain systems contain diffuse synaptic connectivity. In this manuscript, we demonstrate that increasing diffuse cortical coupling within a validated biophysical corticothalamic model traverses the system through a quasi-critical regime in which spatial heterogeneities in input noise support transient critical dynamics in distributed sub-regions. We then demonstrate that the presence of quasi-critical states coincides with known signatures of complex, adaptive brain network dynamics.

Finally, we demonstrate the presence of similar dynamic signatures in empirical whole brain human neuroimaging data. Together, our results establish that modulating the balance between local and diffuse synaptic coupling in a thalamocortical model subtends the emergence of quasi-critical brain states that act to flexibly transition the brain between unique modes of information processing.

bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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