Electrophysiological population signals contain oscillatory and fractal (1/frequency) components. So far research has largely focused on oscillatory activity and only recently interest in fractal population activity has gained momentum. Accordingly, while the cortical correlation structure of oscillatory population activity has been characterized, little is known about the correlation of fractal neuronal activity. To address this, we investigated fractal neuronal population activity in the human brain using resting-state magnetoencephalography (MEG). We combined source-analysis, signal orthogonalization and irregular-resampling auto-spectral analysis (IRASA) to systematically characterize the cortical distribution and correlation of fractal neuronal activity. We found that fractal population activity is robustly correlated across the cortex and that this correlation is spatially well structured. Furthermore, we found that the cortical correlation structure of fractal activity is similar but distinct from the correlation structure of oscillatory neuronal activity. Anterior cortical regions showed the strongest differences between oscillatory and fractal correlation patterns. Our results suggest that correlations of fractal population activity serve as robust markers of cortical network interactions. Furthermore, our results show that fractal and oscillatory signal components provide non-redundant information about large-scale neuronal correlations. This may reflect at least partly distinct neuronal mechanisms underlying and reflected by oscillatory and fractal neuronal population activity.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience