Tagliazucchi Enzo, Head of Consciousness, Culture and Complexity (COCUCO) Lab
University of Buenos Aires, Argentina | ''Conscious states and collective behaviour in the human brain''
Thursday 5 September . 2019 – 10:30, INS Seminar Room, Campus Timone, Red Wing, 5th Floor.
Abstract : Each millisecond the human brain performs the amazing feat of integrating and grouping complex sensory information and generating equally complex motor output. It is generally believed that during this process human consciousness and the ensuing subjective experience emerge from collective brain behaviour. Statistical physics provides a framework to quantify emergent behaviour in many-body systems, yet this framework remains to be successfully applied to the problem of consciousness. Here we will present new results that identify large-scale brain activity during different states of conscious awareness with particular dynamical regimes. We will show evidence suggesting that the dynamics of the awake human brain can be identified with a critical state, whereas unconsciousness shows features typical of a system displaced from the critical point (such as loss of long-range temporal correlations and impaired information integration). These experimental results will be reproduced by modelling a simple excitable system unfolding on the network of realistic large-scale anatomical connections and studying its different dynamical regimes. These results provide a quantification of observables within a statistical physics framework, providing information on the dynamical regime observed during different conscious states. We anticipate that this approach could be fruitful to reveal how consciousness emerges from collective and complex behaviour in the brain.