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Explaining event-related fields by a mechanistic model encapsulating the anatomical structure of auditory cortex

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/06/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Biological cybernetics
Issue number3
Volume113
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)321-345
Publication statusPublished
Early online date28/02/19
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Event-related fields of the magnetoencephalogram are triggered by sensory stimuli and appear as a series of waves extending hundreds of milliseconds after stimulus onset. They reflect the processing of the stimulus in cortex and have a highly subject-specific morphology. However, we still have an incomplete picture of how event-related fields are generated, what the various waves signify, and why they are so subject-specific. Here, we focus on this problem through the lens of a computational model which describes auditory cortex in terms of interconnected cortical columns as part of hierarchically placed fields of the core, belt, and parabelt areas. We develop an analytical approach arriving at solutions to the system dynamics in terms of normal modes: damped harmonic oscillators emerging out of the coupled excitation and inhibition in the system. Each normal mode is a global feature which depends on the anatomical structure of the entire auditory cortex. Further, normal modes are fundamental dynamical building blocks, in that the activity of each cortical column represents a combination of all normal modes. This approach allows us to replicate a typical auditory event-related response as a weighted sum of the single-column activities. Our work offers an alternative to the view that the event-related field arises out of spatially discrete, local generators. Rather, there is only a single generator process distributed over the entire network of the auditory cortex. We present predictions for testing to what degree subject-specificity is due to cross-subject variations in dynamical parameters rather than in the cortical surface morphology.