Communication through transient and stochastic coherence

Inter-regional oscillatory coherence has been proposed as a mechanism for modulating communication. However oscillations in vivo are transient and fluctuate in time, frequency and phase. In out Nature Neuroscience paper we show that, despite their irregular and stochastic-like properties, oscillatory burst can still subserve flexible and selective routing of information.

To reach this conclusion we construct computational models of interacting brain regions and tune them into regimes giving rise to the irregular transient oscillations describe by “oscillo-skeptic” researchers. We then find that these irregular bursts still have the capacity to self-organize into short-lived phase-locked patterns when instantaneous coherence is transiently enhanced. Using then transfer entropy to quantify inter-regional information transfer, we prove that no transfer above chance-level occur outside temporally co-occurring bursts, but that, during events of burst co-occurrence, selected transfer arise in directions determined by the specific co-occurrence pattern transiently recruited.

Since burst co-generation is intrinsic and does not rely on any additional mechanism besides the ones necessary for the appearance of oscillations themselves, the simple application of weak biasing inputs can be enough to selectively route alternative information streams injected into the system.

To know more, read:

  • A. Palmigiano, T. Geisel, F. Wolf & D. Battaglia (2017) Flexible information routing by transient synchrony, Nature Neuroscience 20, 1014–1022.

These results generalize to transient oscillations analogous results we found already in more strongly synchronized regimes with persistent oscillations:

  • C. Kirst, M. Timme & D. Battaglia. Dynamic information routing in complex networks. Nat Comms 7, 11061 (2016).
  • D. Battaglia, A. Witt, F. Wolf and T. Geisel, Dynamic effective connectivity of inter-areal brain circuits, PLoS Computational Biology 8(3):e1002438 (2012).