The Role of Multi-Scale Phase Synchronization and Cross-Frequency Coupling in Cognitive Integration

Felix Siebenhühner

Tutkimustuotos: OpinnäyteVäitöskirjaArtikkelikokoelma


Neuronal processing is distributed into anatomically distinct, largely specialized, neuronal populations. These populations undergo rhythmic fluctuations in excitability, which are commonly known as neuronal oscillations.
Electrophysiological studies of neuronal activity have shown that phase synchronization of oscillations within frequencies characterizes both resting state and task execution and that its strength is correlated with task performance. Therefore phase-synchronization within frequencies is thought to support communication between oscillating neuronal populations and thereby integration and coordination of anatomically distributed processing in cognitive functions. However, it has remained open if and how phase synchronization is associated with directional flow of information. Furthermore, oscillations and synchronization are observed concurrently in multiple frequencies, which are thought to underlie distinct computational functions. Little is known how oscillations and synchronized networks of different frequencies in the human brain are integrated and enable unified cognitive function and experience.

In the first study of this thesis, we developed a measure of directed connectivity in networks of coupled oscillators, called Phase Transfer Entropy (Phase TE) and tested if Phase TE could detect directional flow in simulated data in the presence of noise and signal mixing. Results showed that Phase TE indeed reliably detected information flow under these conditions and was computationally efficient.

In the other three studies, we investigated if two different forms of inter-areal crossfrequency coupling (CFC), namely cross-frequency phase synchrony (CFS) and phaseamplitude coupling (PAC), could support integration and coordination of neuronal processing distributed across frequency bands in the human brain.

In the second study, we analyzed source-reconstructed magneto- and electroencephalographic (M/EEG) data to investigate whether inter-areal CFS could be observed between within-frequency synchronized networks and thereby support the coordination of spectrally distributed processing in visual working memory (VWM). The results showed that CFS was increased during VWM maintenance among theta to gamma frequency bands and the strength of CFS networks predicted individual VWM capacity. Spectral patterns of CFS were found to be different from PAC, indicating complementary roles for both mechanisms.

In the third study, we analyzed source-reconstructed M/EEG data to investigate whether inter-areal CFS and PAC could be observed during two multi-object visual tracking tasks and thereby support visual attention. PAC was found to be significantly correlated with object load in both tasks, and CFS in one task. Further, patterns of CFS and PAC differed significantly between subjects with high and low capacity for visual attention.

In the fourth study, we analyzed intracerebral stereo-electroencephalographic data (SEEG) and source-reconstructed MEG data to investigate whether CFS and PAC are present also in resting state. Further, in order to address concerns about observations of CFC being spurious and caused by non-sinusoidal or non-zero mean signal waveforms, we introduced a new approach to identify true inter-areal CFC connections and discard potentially spurious ones. We observed both inter-areal CFS and PAC, and showed that a significant part of connections was unambiguously true and non-spurious. Spatial profiles differed between CFS and PAC, but were consistent across datasets.

Together, the results from studies II-IV provide evidence that inter-areal CFS and PAC, in complementary ways, connect frequency-specific phase-synchronized networks that involve functionally specialized regions across the cortex to support complex functions such as VWM and attention, and also characterize the resting state. Inter-areal CFC thus may be crucial for the coordination and integration of spectrally distributed processing and the emergence of introspectively coherent cognitive function.
Myöntävä instituutio
  • Bio- ja ympäristötieteellinen tiedekunta
  • Palva, Satu, Valvoja
  • Palva, Matias, Valvoja
Myöntöpäivämäärä4 kesäk. 2019
Painoksen ISBN978-951-51-5219-0
Sähköinen ISBN978-951-51-5220-6
TilaJulkaistu - 11 toukok. 2019
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG5 Tohtorinväitöskirja (artikkeli)


  • 3112 Neurotieteet

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