October 20, 2020

Probabilistic, entropy-maximizing control of large-scale neural synchronization

Oscillatory neural activity is dynamically controlled to coordinate perceptual, attentional and cognitive processes. On the macroscopic scale, this control is reflected in the U-shaped deviations of EEG spectral-power dynamics from stochastic dynamics, characterized by disproportionately elevated occurrences of the lowest and highest ranges of power. To understand the mechanisms that generate these low- and high-power states, we fit a simple mathematical model of synchronization of oscillatory activity to human EEG data. The results consistently indicated that the majority (~95%) of synchronization dynamics is controlled by slowly adjusting the probability of synchronization while maintaining maximum entropy within the timescale of a few seconds. This strategy appears to be universal as the results generalized across oscillation frequencies, EEG current sources, and participants (N = 52) whether they rested with their eyes closed, rested with their eyes open in a darkened room, or viewed a silent nature video. Given that precisely coordinated behavior requires tightly controlled oscillatory dynamics, the current results suggest that the large-scale spatial synchronization of oscillatory activity is controlled by the relatively slow, entropy-maximizing adjustments of synchronization probability (demonstrated here) in combination with temporally precise phase adjustments (e.g., phase resetting generated by sensorimotor interactions). Interestingly, we observed a modest but consistent spatial pattern of deviations from the maximum-entropy rule, potentially suggesting that the mid-central-posterior region serves as an "entropy dump" to facilitate the temporally precise control of spectral-power dynamics in the surrounding regions.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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