Nov 7, 2018

Alpha oscillations and travelling waves: signatures of predictive coding?

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Andrea Alamia, Rufin Vanrullen


Predictive coding is a key mechanism to understand the computational processes underlying brain functioning: in a hierarchical network, higher layers predict the activity of lower layers, and the unexplained residuals (i.e. prediction errors) are sent through. Because of its iterative nature, we wondered whether predictive coding could be related to brain oscillatory dynamics. First, we show that a simple 2-layers predictive coding model of visual cortex, with physiological communication delays between layers, naturally gives rise to alpha-band rhythms, similar to experimental observations. Then, we demonstrate that a multi-layer version of the same model can explain the occurrence of oscillatory travelling waves across layers, both feedforward (during visual stimulation) and backward (during rest). Remarkably, the predictions of our model are matched by the analysis of two independent EEG datasets, in which we observed oscillatory travelling waves in both directions.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Entire Brodmann Areas 17 (Striate Cortex),18 (Parastriate Cortex) and 19 (Peristriate Cortex) of Occipital Lobe
Visual Cortex
Photic Stimulation
PHLPP1 gene

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