The study of states of arousal is key to understand the principles of consciousness. Yet, how different brain states emerge from the collective activity of brain regions remains unknown. Here, we studied the fMRI brain activity of monkeys during wakefulness and anesthesia-induced loss of consciousness. Using maximum entropy models, we derived collective, macroscopic properties that quantify the system’s capabilities to produce work, to contain information and to transmit it, and that indicate a phase transition from critical awake dynamics to supercritical anesthetized states. Moreover, information-theoretic measures identified those parameters that impacted the most the network dynamics. We found that changes in brain state and in state of consciousness primarily depended on changes in network couplings of insular, cingulate, and parietal cortices. Our findings suggest that the brain state transition underlying the loss of consciousness is predominantly driven by the uncoupling of specific brain regions from the rest of the network.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience