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Neuron. 2017 Jun 7;94(5):1010-1026. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.05.013.

Symmetry Breaking in Space-Time Hierarchies Shapes Brain Dynamics and Behavior.

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Department of Neurology and Developmental Medicine, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA; Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
Institut de Neurosciences des Systèmes, INSERM, Aix-Marseille Université, 13005 Marseille, France. Electronic address:


In order to maintain brain function, neural activity needs to be tightly coordinated within the brain network. How this coordination is achieved and related to behavior is largely unknown. It has been previously argued that the study of the link between brain and behavior is impossible without a guiding vision. Here we propose behavioral-level concepts and mechanisms embodied as structured flows on manifold (SFM) that provide a formal description of behavior as a low-dimensional process emerging from a network's dynamics dependent on the symmetry and invariance properties of the network connectivity. Specifically, we demonstrate that the symmetry breaking of network connectivity constitutes a timescale hierarchy resulting in the emergence of an attractive functional subspace. We show that behavior emerges when appropriate conditions imposed upon the couplings are satisfied, justifying the conductance-based nature of synaptic couplings. Our concepts propose design principles for networks predicting how behavior and task rules are represented in real neural circuits and open new avenues for the analyses of neural data.


behavior; brain dynamics; brain function; connectivity; dynamical system; emergence; manifold; network; symmetry; symmetry breaking

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