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Patel A.D.,The Neurosciences Institute
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences | Year: 2012

Recent research suggests that musical training enhances the neural encoding of speech. Why would musical training have this effect? The OPERA hypothesis proposes an answer on the basis of the idea that musical training demands greater precision in certain aspects of auditory processing than does ordinary speech perception. This paper presents two assumptions underlying this idea, as well as two clarifications, and suggests directions for future research. © 2012 New York Academy of Sciences.. Source

Ros T.,University of Geneva | Baars B.J.,The Neurosciences Institute | Lanius R.A.,University of Western Ontario | Vuilleumier P.,University of Geneva
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2014

Neurofeedback (NFB) is emerging as a promising technique that enables self-regulation of ongoing brain oscillations. However, despite a rise in empirical evidence attesting to its clinical benefits, a solid theoretical basis is still lacking on the manner in which NFB is able to achieve these outcomes. The present work attempts to bring together various concepts from neurobiology, engineering, and dynamical systems so as to propose a contemporary theoretical framework for the mechanistic effects of NFB. The objective is to provide a firmly neurophysiological account of NFB, which goes beyond traditional behaviorist interpretations that attempt to explain psychological processes solely from a descriptive standpoint whilst treating the brain as a “black box”. To this end, we interlink evidence from experimental findings that encompass a broad range of intrinsic brain phenomena: starting from “bottom-up” mechanisms of neural synchronization, followed by “top-down” regulation of internal brain states, moving to dynamical systems plus control-theoretic principles, and concluding with activity-dependent as well as homeostatic forms of brain plasticity. In support of our framework, we examine the effects of NFB in several brain disorders, including attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In sum, it is argued that pathological oscillations emerge from an abnormal formation of brain-state attractor landscape(s). The central thesis put forward is that NFB tunes brain oscillations toward a homeostatic set-point which affords an optimal balance between network flexibility and stability (i.e., self-organised criticality (SOC)). © 2014 Ros, Baars, Lanius and Vuilleumier. Source

Madl T.,University of Vienna | Baars B.J.,The Neurosciences Institute | Franklin S.,University of Memphis
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

We propose that human cognition consists of cascading cycles of recurring brain events. Each cognitive cycle senses the current situation, interprets it with reference to ongoing goals, and then selects an internal or external action in response. While most aspects of the cognitive cycle are unconscious, each cycle also yields a momentary "ignition" of conscious broadcasting. Neuroscientists have independently proposed ideas similar to the cognitive cycle, the fundamental hypothesis of the LIDA model of cognition. High-level cognition, such as deliberation, planning, etc., is typically enabled by multiple cognitive cycles. In this paper we describe a timing model LIDA's cognitive cycle. Based on empirical and simulation data we propose that an initial phase of perception (stimulus recognition) occurs 80-100 ms from stimulus onset under optimal conditions. It is followed by a conscious episode (broadcast) 200-280 ms after stimulus onset, and an action selection phase 60-110 ms from the start of the conscious phase. One cognitive cycle would therefore take 260-390 ms. The LIDA timing model is consistent with brain evidence indicating a fundamental role for a theta-gamma wave, spreading forward from sensory cortices to rostral corticothalamic regions. This posteriofrontal theta-gamma wave may be experienced as a conscious perceptual event starting at 200-280 ms post stimulus. The action selection component of the cycle is proposed to involve frontal, striatal and cerebellar regions. Thus the cycle is inherently recurrent, as the anatomy of the thalamocortical system suggests. The LIDA model fits a large body of cognitive and neuroscientific evidence. Finally, we describe two LIDA-based software agents: the LIDA Reaction Time agent that simulates human performance in a simple reaction time task, and the LIDA Allport agent which models phenomenal simultaneity within timeframes comparable to human subjects. While there are many models of reaction time performance, these results fall naturally out of a biologically and computationally plausible cognitive architecture. © 2011 Madl et al. Source

Watt A.J.,University College London | Desai N.S.,The Neurosciences Institute
Frontiers in Synaptic Neuroscience | Year: 2010

Spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) offers a powerful means of forming and modifying neural circuits. Experimental and theoretical studies have demonstrated its potential usefulness for functions as varied as cortical map development, sharpening of sensory receptive fields, working memory, and associative learning. Even so, it is unlikely that STDP works alone. Unless changes in synaptic strength are coordinated across multiple synapses and with other neuronal properties, it is difficult to maintain the stability and functionality of neural circuits. Moreover, there are certain features of early postnatal development (e.g., rapid changes in sensory input) that threaten neural circuit stability in ways that STDP may not be well placed to counter. These considerations have led researchers to investigate additional types of plasticity, complementary to STDP, that may serve to constrain synaptic weights and/or neuronal firing. These are collectively known as "homeostatic plasticity" and include schemes that control the total synaptic strength of a neuron, that modulate its intrinsic excitability as a function of average activity, or that make the ability of synapses to undergo Hebbian modification depend upon their history of use. In this article, we will review the experimental evidence for homeostatic forms of plasticity and consider how they might interact with STDP during development, and learning and memory. © 2010 Watt and Desai. Source

McKinstry J.L.,The Neurosciences Institute | Edelman G.M.,The Neurosciences Institute
Frontiers in Neurorobotics | Year: 2013

Animal behavior often involves a temporally ordered sequence of actions learned from experience. Here we describe simulations of interconnected networks of spiking neurons that learn to generate patterns of activity in correct temporal order. The simulation consists of large-scale networks of thousands of excitatory and inhibitory neurons that exhibit short-term synaptic plasticity and spike-timing dependent synaptic plasticity. The neural architecture within each area is arranged to evoke winner-take-all (WTA) patterns of neural activity that persist for tens of milliseconds. In order to generate and switch between consecutive firing patterns in correct temporal order, a reentrant exchange of signals between these areas was necessary. To demonstrate the capacity of this arrangement, we used the simulation to train a brain-based device responding to visual input by autonomously generating temporal sequences of motor actions. © 2013 McKinstry and Edelman. Source

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