Oscillations, metastability and phase transitions in brain and models of cognition

Werner, MD Gerhard (2006) Oscillations, metastability and phase transitions in brain and models of cognition. [Conference Paper] (In Press)

Full text available as:



Neuroscience is being practiced in many different forms and at many different organizational levels of the Nervous System. Which of these levels and associated conceptual frameworks is most informative for elucidating the association of neural processes with processes of Cognition is an empirical question and subject to pragmatic validation. In this essay, I select the framework of Dynamic System Theory. Several investigators have applied in recent years tools and concepts of this theory to interpretation of observational data, and for designing neuronal models of cognitive functions. I will first trace the essentials of conceptual development and hypotheses separately for discerning observational tests and criteria for functional realism and conceptual plausibility of the alternatives they offer. I will then show that the statistical mechanics of phase transitions in brain activity, and some of its models, provides a new and possibly revealing perspective on brain events in cognition.

Item Type:Conference Paper
Keywords:oscillations, metastability, Phase space dynamics,Cognition, Coordination Dynamics, global neuronal workspace, Neuronal Group Selection
Subjects:Biology > Theoretical Biology
ID Code:4873
Deposited By: Werner, Gerhard
Deposited On:25 May 2006
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:56

References in Article

Select the SEEK icon to attempt to find the referenced article. If it does not appear to be in cogprints you will be forwarded to the paracite service. Poorly formated references will probably not work.

Acebron JA, Bonilla LL, Perez CJ, Ritort F, Spigler R (2005) The Kuramoto model: a simple paradigm for synchronization phenomena. Rev Mod Phys 77:137-185.

Albert R, Barabasi AL (2002) Statistical mechanics of complex networks. Rev Mod Phys 74:47-97.

Anderson PW (1972) More is different. Science 177:393-396.

Ashby R (1960) Design for a brain. Chapman & Hall, London.

Baars BJ (1988) A cognitive theory of consciousness. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 424 p.

Baars BJ (1997) In the theater of consciousness. Oxford University Press, New York. 193 p.

Baars BJ (2002) The conscious access theory: origins and recent evidence. Trends Cogn Sci 6:47-52.

Bakhman T (2000) Microgenetic approach to the conscious Mind. John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam. 298 p.

Bak P (1996) How Nature works: the science of self-organized criticality. Copernicus, New York. 212 p.

Bartels A, Zeki S (2004) The chronoarchitecture of human brain – natural viewing conditions reveal a time-based anatomy of the brain. NeuroImage 22:419-433.

Batterman R.W. (2002) The devil in the details: asymptotic reasoning in explanation, reduction and emergence. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 144 p.

Bauer HU, Pawelzik K (1993) Alternating oscillatory and stochastic dynamics in a model for a neuronal assembly. Physica D 69:380-393.

Bressler SL (1995) Large-Scale cortical networks and cognition. Brain Res Rev 20:288-304.

Bressler S., Kelso JAS (2001) Cortical coordination dynamics and cognition. Trends Cogn Sci. 5:26-36.

Changeux J-P (1983) L’homme neuronal. Fayard, Paris, 419 p.

Changeux J-P, Dehaene S (1989) Neuronal models of cognitive functions. Cognition 33:63-109.

Chialvo, DR (2004) Critical brain networks. Physica A 340:756-765.

Dehaene S, Naccache L (2001) Towards a cognitive neuroscience of consciousness: basic evidence and a workspace framework. Cognition 79: 1-37.

Dehaen S, Changeux J-P, Nadal J-P (1987), Neural networks that learn temporal sequences by selection. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 84:2727-2731.

Deahaene S, Changeux J-P (1997) A hierarchical neuronal network for planning behavior. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 94:13293-13298.

Dehaene, S, Kerszberg M, Changeux J-P (1998) A neuronal model of a global workspace in effortful cognitive tasks. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 95:14529-14534.

Dehaene S, Sergent C, Changeux,J-P (2003) A neuronal network model linking subjective reports and objective physiological data during conscious perception. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100:8520-8525.

Deahaene S, Changeux J-P (2004) Neuronal mechanisms for access to consciousness. In M Gazzaniga ed. The Cognitive Neurosciences , 3rd edit, Norton, N.Y., pp.1145-1157.

Dehaene S, Changeux J-P (2005) Ongoing spontaneous activity controls access to consciousness: a neuronal model for inattentional blindness. PLoS 3(5), e141.

Ding M, Bressler ST, Yang W, Liang H (2000) Short-window spectral analysis of cortical event-related potentials by adaptive multivariate autoregressive modeling: data processing, model validation, and variability assessment. Biol Cybern 83:35-45.

Eckhorn R, Bauer R, Jordan W, Broisch M, Kruse W, Munk M, Reitboeck HJ (1988) Coherent oscillations: a mechanism for feature linking in the visual cortex. Biol Cybern 60:121-130.

Edelman GM (1987) Neural Darwinism: the theory of neural group selection. Basic Books, NY. 371 p.

Edelman GM (1989) The remembered present: a biological theory of consciousness. Basic Books, NY. 346 p.

Edelman GM (1993) Neural Darwinism: selection and reentrant signaling in higher brain function, Neuron 10:115-125.

Edelman GM, Tononi G (2001) Consciousness: how matter becomes Imagination. Penguin, London. 274 p.

Eguikluz VM, Chialvo DR, Cecchi G, Baliki M, Apkarian AV (2005) Scale-free Brain functional networks. Phys Rev Lett 94:018102-1.

Engel AK, Fries P, Koenig P, Brecht M, Singer W (1999) Temporal binding, Binocular Rivalry, and Consciousness. Consciousness and Cognition 8:128-151.

Erdos P, Renyi A (1960) Publications of the Mathematical Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences 5:17-61.

Franklin S, Graesser A (1999) A software agent model of consciousness. Consciousness and Cognition 8:285-301.

Franklin S (2003) IDA: a conscious artifact ? J.Consciousness Studies 10:47-66.

Freeman WJ (1975) Mass action in the nervous system. Academic Press NY.

Freeman WJ (2000) Neurodynamics. Springer, New York

Freeman WJ, Holmes MD (2005) Metastability, instability, and state transitions in neocortex. Neural Networks 18:497-504.

Fox MD, Snyder AZ, Vincent JL, Corbetta M, van Essen DC, Raichle ME (2005) The human brain is intrinsically organized into dynamic, anticorrelated functional networks. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102:9673-9678.

Friston KJ (2000) The labile brain I. Proc R Soc Lond B Bio 355:215-236.

Gray CM, Singer W (1987) Neurosci.Abst. 404:3.

Gray CM, Koenig P, Engel AK, Singer W (1989) Oscillatory responses in cat visual cortex exhibit intercolumnar synchronization which reflects global stimulus properties. Nature 338:334-337.

Gray MG, Singer W (1989) Stimulus-specific neuronal oscillations in orientation columns of cat visual cortex. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 86:1698-1702.

Gusnard DA, Raichle ME (2001) Searching for a baseline: functional imaging and the resting human brain. Nat Rev Neurosci 2:685-694,

Haken H (1983) Introduction. In E Basar, H Flohr, H,Haken ed. Synergetics of the brain. Springer Berlin.

Haken H (2002) Brain dynamics. Springer, NY. 245 p.

Katachalsy A, Rowland V, Huberman B (1974) Neuroscience Res.Program Bull 12.

Kelso JAS, Bressler SL, Buchanan S, DeGuzman GC, Ding M, Fuchs A, Holroyd T (1992) Phase transition in brain and human behavior. Phys Lett A 169: 134-144.

Kenet T, Bibitchkov D, Tsodyks M, Grinvald A, Arieli A (2003) Spontaneously emerging cortical representations of visual attributes. Nature 425:954-956.

KoenigT, Studer D, Hubl D, Melie L, Strik WK, (2005) Brain connectivity at different time scales measured with EEG. Phil Trans R Soc B 360:1015-1023.

Kozma R, Puljic M, Balister P, Bollobas B, Freeman, WJ (2004), Lecture Notes in Computer Science 3305:435-443

KuramotoY, (1984) Chemical oscillations, waves and turbulence. Dover Publ., N.Y. 156 p.

Lamme VAF, Roelfsema PR (2000) The distinct modes of vision offered by feed-forward and recurrent processing. Trends Neurosci 23:571-579.

Lamme VAF, Super H, Landman R, Roelfsema PR, Spekreijse H (2000) The role of primary visual cortex (VI) in visual awareness. Vision Res 40:1507-1521.

Lehman D, Strik WK, Henggeler B, Koenig T, Koukkou M (1998) Brain electric microstates and momentary conscious mind states as building blocks of spontaneous thinking: I. Visual imagery and abstract thoughts. Internat J Psychophysiol 29:1-11

Le vanQuyen, M, (2003) Disentangling the dynamic core: a research program for a neurodynamics at a large scale. Biol Res 36:67-88.

Libet B (2004) Mind time: the temporal factor in consciousness. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 248.p.

Llinas R, Ribary U, Contreras D, Pedroarena C (1998) The neuronal basis of consciousness. Phil Trans R Soc Lond B 353:1841-1849,

Lumer ED, Edelman GM, Tononi G (1997) Neural dynamics in a model of the thalamocortical system. I. Layers, loops, and the emergence of fast synchronous rhythms. Cereb Cortex 7:207-227.

Lutz A, Lachaux J-P, Martineri J, Varela FJ (2002) Guiding the study of btain dynamcs by using first-person data: synchrony patterns correlate with ongoing conscious states during simple visual tasks. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99:1586-1591

Mahner M, Bunge M (1997) Foundations of Biophilosophy. Springer, New York.

Murthy VN, Fetz EE (1992) Coherent 25-35 Hz oscillations in the sensorimotor cortex of awake behaving monkeys. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 89:5670-5674.

Newell A (1994) Unified theories of cognition: The William James Lectures, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass. 549 p.

Newman J, Baars BJ (1993) A neural attentional model for access to consciousness: a global workspace perspective. Concepts in Neuroscience 4: 255-290.

Newman J, Baars BJ, Cho S-B (1997) A neural global workspace model for conscious attention. Neural Networks 10:1195-1197.

Newman MEJ (2003) The structure and function of complex networks. SIAM Review 45:167-256.

Pikovsky A, Rosenblum M, Kurths J (2001) Synchronization : a universal concept in nonlinear sciences. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 411 p.

Rapp PE (1986) Oscillations and Chaos in cellular mebaolism and physiological systems, In: AV Holden, ed., Chaos. Machester University Press. pp.179-208.

Ribary U, Ionnaides AA, Singh KD, Hasson R, Bolton JPR, Lado F, Mogilner A, Llinas R (1991) Magnetic field tomography of coherent thalamocortical 40-Hz oscillations in humans. Proc Natt Acad Sci USA 88:11037-11041, 1991.

Roelfsema PR, Engel AK, Koening P, Singer W (1997) Visuomotor integration is associated with zero-lag synchronization among cortical areas. Nature 385:157-161.

Rodriguez E, George N, Lachaux J-P, Martineri J, Renault B, Varela FJ (1999) Perception’s shadow: long distance synchronization of human brain activity. Nature 397:430-433.

Schmolensky MT, Wang Y, Hanes DP, Thompson KG, Leutgeb S, Schall JD, Leventhal AG (1998) Signal timing across macaque visual system. J. Neurophysiol. 79:3272-3278.

Sergent C, Dehaene S (2004) Is consciousness a gradual phenomenon ? Psychol Sci 15:720-728.

Sigman M, Dehaene S (2005) Parsing a cognitive task: a characterization of the Mind’s bottleneck. PLoS 3(2), e37.

Singer W, Engel AK, Kreiter AK, Munk MHJ, Neuernschwander S, Roelfsema PR (1997) Neuronal assemblies: necessity, signature and detectability. Trends Cogn Sci 1,252-261.

Singer W (1998) Consciousness and the structure of neuronal representations. Phil Trans R Soc Lond B , 353:1829-1840.

Sporns O, Tononi G, Edelman GM (1991) Modeling perceptual grouping and figure-ground segregation by means of active re-entrant connections. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 88:129-133

Sporns O, Tononi G, Edelman GM (2000) Connectivity and complexity: the relationship between neuroanantomy and brain dynamics. Neural Networks 13:909-922.

Sporns O, Koetter R (2004) Motifs in brain networks. PLoS Biology, 2(11): e369.

Sporns O, Chialvo DR, Kaiser M, Hilgetag CC (2004) Organization, development and function of complex brain networks. Trends in Cog. Sci. 8:418-425.

Sporns O (2004) Complex neural dynamics. In: VK Jirsa,& JAS Kelso, ed. Coordination Dynamics: issues and trends. Springer, Berlin. pp. 179-215.

Tallon-Baudry C, Bertrand O (1999) Oscillatory gamma activity in humans and its role in object representation. Trends Cogn Sci 3:151-162.

Taylor, JG, Alavi FN 1993), Mathematical analysis of a competitive networks for attention. In: JG Taylor, Mathematical Approaches to neural networks, Amsterdam: Elsevier Publ., pp.341-382.

Thom R (1983) Structural stability and morphogenesis; an outline of a general theory of models. Halstead Press, N.Y. 305 p.

Tononi G, Edelman GM (1998) Consciousness and complexity. Science 282:1846-1851.

Tononi G, Edelman GM (2000) A Universe of consciousness: how matter becomes imagination. Basic Books, N.Y.

Tononi G, Sporns O, Edelman GM (1992) Reentry and the problem of integrating multiple cortical areas: Simulation of dynamic integration in the visual system. Cereb Cortex 2:310-335.

Tononi G, Sporns O, Edelman GM (1994) A measure for brain complexity: relating functional segregation and integration in the nervous system. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 91:5033-5037.

Tononi G, Edelman GM, Sporns O (1998) Complexity and coherency: integrating information in the brain. Trends Cogn Sci 2:474-484.

Tononi G, Sporns O (2003) Measuring information integration, BMC Neuroscience 4:31

available at: .

Varela F, Lachaux J-P, Rodriguez E, Martineri J (2001) The brainweb: phase synchronization and large-scale integration. Nat Rev Neurosci 2:29-239.

von der Malsburg Ch (1981/1994) The correlation theory of brain function. In: E. Domany, ed. Models of neural Networks, Springer NY. pp. 95-119.

von Stein A, Sarntheim J (2000) Different frequencies for different scales of cortical integration: from local gamma to long range alpha/theta synchronization. Int. J. Psychophysiol. 38:301-313.

Wallace R (2005 a) Consciousness: a mathematical treatment of the Neuronal Global Workspace Model. Springer, NY. 116

Wallace R (2005 b) A modular network treatment of Baars’ Global Workspace consciousness model (Version 7.2). available at:

Wallace R (2005 c) A Global Workspace perspective on mental disorders, Theoretical Biology and Medical Modeling. available at:

Wallace R (2006) Generalized inattentional blindness from a Global Workspace perspective. available at:

Werner G (2005) Perspectives on the Neuroscience of Cognition and Consciousness. BioSystems, in print

Yeomans JM (2002) Statistical mechanics of phase transitions. Clarendon Press Oxford. 153 p.

Zeki S (2003) The disunity of consciousness. Trends Cogn Sci 7:214-218.


Repository Staff Only: item control page