New paper online by Waschke, Wöst­mann & Obleser

Read all about neur­al irreg­u­lar­i­ty in aging brains and how it relates to per­cep­tu­al deci­sions: New paper by PhD stu­dent Leo Waschke. 

Now avail­able online:
https://goo.gl/F4dFfe

Abstract

Sen­so­ry rep­re­sen­ta­tions, and thus human per­cepts, of the phys­i­cal world are sus­cep­ti­ble to fluc­tu­a­tions in brain state or “neur­al irreg­u­lar­i­ty”. Fur­ther­more, aging brains dis­play altered lev­els of neur­al irreg­u­lar­i­ty. We here show that a sin­gle, with­in-tri­al, infor­ma­tion-the­o­ret­ic mea­sure (weight­ed per­mu­ta­tion entropy) cap­tures neur­al irreg­u­lar­i­ty in the human elec­troen­cephalo­gram as a proxy for both, trait-like dif­fer­ences between indi­vid­u­als of vary­ing age, and state-like fluc­tu­a­tions that bias per­cep­tu­al deci­sions. First, the over­all lev­el of neur­al irreg­u­lar­i­ty increased with par­tic­i­pants’ age, par­al­leled by a decrease in vari­abil­i­ty over time, like­ly index­ing age-relat­ed changes at struc­tur­al and func­tion­al lev­els of brain activ­i­ty. Sec­ond, states of high­er neur­al irreg­u­lar­i­ty were asso­ci­at­ed with opti­mized sen­so­ry encod­ing and a sub­se­quent­ly increased prob­a­bil­i­ty of choos­ing the first of two phys­i­cal­ly iden­ti­cal stim­uli to be high­er in pitch. In sum, neur­al irreg­u­lar­i­ty not only char­ac­ter­izes behav­ioural­ly rel­e­vant brain states, but also can iden­ti­fy trait-like changes that come with age.