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Chaos. 2008 Sep;18(3):037131. doi: 10.1063/1.2979694.

Intermittent spatio-temporal desynchronization and sequenced synchrony in ECoG signals.

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Computational NeuroDynamics Laboratory, University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee 38120, USA.


Electrocorticographic (ECoG) signals from the brain surface typically exhibit high synchrony across large cortical areas, interrupted by brief periods of desynchronization exhibiting propagating phase discontinuities, across which spatial patterns of phase emerge in selected frequency bands. Experiments with rabbits trained using classical conditioning paradigms indicated that such desynchronization periods demarcate cognitive processing in the subjects; the ECoG in the frames between such periods revealed spatial patterns of amplitude modulation that were classified with respect to sensory stimuli that the rabbits had been trained to recognize. The present work describes intermittent synchrony and desynchronization of ECoG signals measured over the visual cortex. We analyze the analytic amplitude (AA) and analytic phase (AP) of the signals bandpassed over the beta band (12.5-25 Hz) and theta band (3-7 Hz) using the Hilbert transform. The AP of analytic signals evaluated using a Shannon-based synchronization index in theta band exhibits phase synchronization for varying time periods averaging about 1 s, interrupted by desynchronization periods of duration about 0.1 s. Synchronization periods in the beta-band last <100 ms, with interruptions by desynchronization lasting one-tenth that, in which the analytic amplitude drops drastically. During these "null spikes," the analytic phase is undefined, and the spatial and temporal phase differences show high dispersion. Detailed examination of the bandpass filtered ECoG confirms the presence of a shared mean frequency in a frame of synchronized oscillation, at which frequency the spatial pattern of the AP has the form of a cone. Between frames the AA approaches zero. The form of the null spike resembles a tornado (a vortex), as shown in sequential frames by a rotating spatial pattern of amplitude in the filtered ECoG.

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