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Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 92, Issue 6, pp 350–359 | Cite as

A field-theoretic approach to understanding scale-free neocortical dynamics

  • Walter J FreemanEmail author
Article

Abstract

A mesoscopic field-theoretic approach is compared with neural network and brain imaging approaches to understanding brain dynamics. Analysis of high spatiotemporal resolution rabbit electroencephalogram (EEG) reveals neural fields in the form of spatial patterns in amplitude (AM) and phase (PM) modulation of gamma and beta carrier waves that serve to classify EEGs from trials with differing conditioned stimuli (CS+/−). Paleocortex exemplified by olfactory EEG has one AM–PM pattern at a time that forms by an input-dependent phase transition. Neocortex shows multiple overlapping AM–PM patterns before and during presentation of CSs. Modeling suggests that neocortex is stabilized in a scale-free state of self-organized criticality, enabling cooperative domains to form virtually instantaneously by phase transitions ranging in size from a few hypercolumns to an entire hemisphere. Self-organized local domains precede formation of global domains that supervene and contribute global modulations to local domains. This mechanism is proposed to explain Gestalt formation in perception.

Keywords

Phase Transition Conditioned Stimulus Brain Imaging Imaging Approach Local Domain 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular & Cell BiologyUniversity of California at BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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