Cognitive Processing

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 135–162 | Cite as

Timing in cognition and EEG brain dynamics: discreteness versus continuity

  • Andrew A. FingelkurtsEmail author
  • Alexander A. Fingelkurts


This article provides an overview of recent developments in solving the timing problem (discreteness vs. continuity) in cognitive neuroscience. Both theoretical and empirical studies have been considered, with an emphasis on the framework of operational architectonics (OA) of brain functioning (Fingelkurts and Fingelkurts in Brain Mind 2:291–29, 2001; Neurosci Biobehav Rev 28:827–836, 2005). This framework explores the temporal structure of information flow and interarea interactions within the network of functional neuronal populations by examining topographic sharp transition processes in the scalp EEG, on the millisecond scale. We conclude, based on the OA framework, that brain functioning is best conceptualized in terms of continuity–discreteness unity which is also the characteristic property of cognition. At the end we emphasize where one might productively proceed for the future research.


Temporal structure Consciousness Cognition Perception EEG Discreteness Continuity Operational architectonics Brain operations Large-scale networks Metastability Synchronization Binding problem Brain and mind 



The authors are grateful for stimulating discussions on related questions to Prof. Alexander Kaplan, Prof. Walter Freeman, Prof. Erol Basar, Prof. Hermann Haken, Prof. Steve Bressler, and Mr. Carlos Neves (Computer Science specialist). Conversations with Prof. Antti Revonsuo about neurophysiology of consciousness have had a significant influence on the ideas in this paper. We wish also to thank Prof. William Banks and Prof. Max Velmans for their very useful comments on the earlier version of this paper. The writing of this paper has been supported by the BM-SCIENCE. Special thanks to Prof. Richard Lippa for skilful text editing.


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© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew A. Fingelkurts
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alexander A. Fingelkurts
    • 1
  1. 1.BM-SIENCE Brain and Mind Technologies Research CentreEspooFinland

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