Timing of neural events
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Timing of Neural Events. Implications for Consciousness and Binding By Jay Gunkelman, QEEG-Diplomate QEEGJay @ SBCGlobal.net www.QProWorldwide.com. Mind-Brain-Consciousness.

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Timing of neural events

Timing of Neural Events

Implications for Consciousness and Binding

By Jay Gunkelman, QEEG-Diplomate

QEEGJay @ SBCGlobal.net


Mind brain consciousness


Any respectable Model must explain memory (both semantic and episodic), as well as “intention”, “attention”, Perception, “awareness”, “discrimination”, and “conscious awareness”, and predict whether a brain is conscious or not... Objectively... and show a method of binding spatially divergent areas of brain function into instantly functioning interlaced neural networks... On both hemispheres.

The Model must use modern neuroscience, but be classically based and be generally understandable by the non-specialist (a criteria set by Wilder Penfield’s Mystery of the Mind).



  • Memory Storage is holonomic, and stored as a distributed Gabor function (K. Pribram)

  • Semantic memory is enhanced by increased higher frequency (11-13 Hz) thlamo-cortical alpha content (environmental samples per second) which is seen tonically in on-going spindles.

  • Episodic memory is associated with a septo-hippocampal theta rhythm (Frontal Midline Theta; FMT), which is seen phasically, in brief bursts.

Timing of neural events

For our “memory” to work, we need to have a relationship between our short term episodic memory and our long term memory. For detailed reference to EEG and memory, please see Klimesch’s work on theta, alpha and memory.

ERP morphology can be created by an instantaneous phase lock of alpha and theta rhythms (Klimesch, 2004).

This time-series represents the interaction between the limbic system’s phasic theta of the episodic memory system and the thalamo-cortical system’s semantic memory system,associated with high frequency alpha components.

A mechanism for phase locking (synchronizing) of the EEG needs to be identified...



We have a complex set of brain functional modules, and for us to be functional, we need to have areas work together for one task, and NOT to work together on others.... For example, when a verbal stimuli is given, and it has a semantic unexpected difference, frontal lobe areas evaluating the oddball semantic content engage, while perceptual inputs are attenuated parietally... Binding “in” and blocking “out” neural networks... See the ERPs:

Timing of neural events

ERP’s spatio-temporal domain: An “unexpected semantic difference” elicits changes with a 400 milliseconds latency (D.Tucker, 1994)

Timing of neural events

Implications of timing on candidates for “Binding’s” mechanism.

Phase-locked gamma has been detected as early as 45 milliseconds in a cognitive task (Gurtubay et al, 2004) ... A bit late to be the binding agent creating the network for processing the data.

DC fields can mediate neuronal synchronization on a time scale of one millisecond(E.R. John, 2005)

Mediation of the EEG’s synchrony by the DC field requires a field gradient on the order of 100 uV/mm (Weaver, 1998).

DC field gradients of 100-200 uV/mm are seen in animals.

(Caton, R., 1875).

Timing of neural events

Perception is not continuous, but parsed into discrete packets by thalamic gating, with sensory stimuli enhanced in the negative phase and diminished in the positive phase of the alpha wave, making 10 Hz alpha actually function as 10 samples per second of the environment, with a 100 millisecond snapshot “frame”.

A “perceptual frame”, which is from 75 to 100 ms. (Efron, 1970) is temporally quite similar to a “Micro-State” , which is 82(+/- 4) ms(D. Lehmann, et al., 2004).

The earliest components of ERPs correspond to perceptual signal detection. The N1 occurs at 60-80 ms(thalamic arrival), and P1 at about 100 ms(perceptual cortical arrival).

Initial sensory processing within the sensory association cortex is noted from 90 to 130 ms.

Timing of neural events

The P2 is seen at about 200 milliseconds, and correlates with sensory “awareness”, but not full consciousness.

Stimulus detections posteriorly are projected to prefrontal and parietal areasfrom130 to 280 ms(Halgren, et al., Cerebral Cortex 2002).

Phase-locked gamma activity appears between the parietal and prefrontal cortex at approximately 180-230 ms in a cognitive task (Varela, 2000).

Posterior temporal phase-locked gamma is seen at approximately 200 ms(Gurtubay, et al, 2004).

Timing of neural events

The P-300 has two components: The P3A is seen frontally at 225-250 ms, and the P3B appears parietally at 300-350 ms. There is phase-locked gamma from 250-400 ms, found only after the target stimuli(Gurtubay, et al., 2004).

The N400 is associated with “unexpected semantic representation” (D. Tucker, 1994). The N450 is associated with semantic encoding (Hillyard & Mangun, 1987).

The return of late evoked potential components is predictive of recovery from coma (Alter, John, & Ransohoff, 1990), as are the presence of “spindles” in coma... though many other EEG patterns in coma are either non-specific or offer poor prognosis.

An ERP can be conceptualized as an approximation of one cycle of the construction of a “frame” of consciousness.

Shifting attention volitionally shifts the erp s cortical distribution

Shifting attention volitionally shifts the ERP’s cortical distribution

Timing of neural events

How many ERP cycles does it take to be conscious??

When the second element of a pair of sensory stimuli differs, an enhancement of the amplitude of the ERP takes place. This DC potential difference is considered a measurement ofattention, and is referred to as “mismatch-negativity” (MMN).

Erps in normal and adhd children in go nogo task

ERPs in normal and ADHD children in GO/NOGO task

  • Amplitude of NOGO-GO difference wave is higher in normal children and depends of task performance in ADHD children (12-14 years old).

  • The location of positive and negative picks in the difference wave remains the same for normal and ADHD children.

    Kropotov et al., in preparation

Timing of neural events

The MMN data shows that in a conscious person, the recent past is continuously compared with the present, thus suggesting that consciousness is the remembered present. (Edelman (2001)

An “echoic memory trace” serially compares events to a representation of the previous event (Naatanen, 2004). This has a duration of approximately 10 seconds, and is processed in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. (E.R. John, 2005).

The implication is thatconsciousness requires two ERP “perceptual cycles”:one to perceive, and another to compare to the recalled present.

Timing of neural events

Conscious awareness of an event is delayed about 500 ms, but this awareness is referred backward to the ‘event-stream’ onset (Libet 1979).

This leaves us with the problem of “Binding”, and the implications of these observations of neural timing on the mechanisms capable of binding a spatially diverse neural network... “instantly”

The only system fast enough for spatially distant neural network “phase binding” is the millisecond time frame of the DC field, not Gamma.(Gunkelman, 2004)

Timing of neural events

Initiated by the DC field’s millisecond time domain synchronization effect, we see a bispectral relationship between Gamma and DC Field activity in the EEG... during consciousness.

Timing of neural events

Gamma back-propagation and network phase locking ‘resonance’ is generated after a network is bound (John, 2005).(emphasis mine)

The resonant DC fields and phase locked EEG rhythms yield consciousness, from within their “nested rhythms”.

Nesting of frequenciesconstitutes aquantum effect observed in the EEG(J. Pop-Jordanov, 2004).

Timing of neural events

  • Model summary:

  • Consciousness is an emergent property, spawned from of the interaction between

  • DC fields, in the realm of the mind, and

  • 2) EEG rhythms, in the realm of the brain...

  • When mind and brain interact, with quantum nesting of rhythms... consciousness emerges.

  • Consciousness is not alchemy... It is based solidly in modern neuroscience!

Timing of neural events

Decrease of beta and Gamma synchrony in ADHD

  • Normal is compared with ADHD, divided into high and low performance subgroups.

  • “Go” stimuli elicited activity in beta (14-18 Hz) band.

  • The degree and latency of beta synchronization varied with performance.

  • The Gamma differences are apparent, with less gamma content associated with performance decreases

  • Note the modulated 6 Hz ‘nesting’ of Gamma in normal conscious function

    Data from J.Kropotov, 2000

Bispectral data showing a locked neural network in parkinsonism

Bispectral data showing a locked neural network in parkinsonism

Timing of neural events

Reverse alphabetical order of references

  • Varela, F. J. (2000). Neural synchrony and consciousness: Are we going somewhere? Consciousness and Cognition (Proceedings of the 4th Annual Meeting of the Assn for the Scientific Study of Consciousness), 9, S26-S27.

  • Tallon-Baudry, C. (2000). Oscillatory synchrony as a signature for the unity of visual experience. Consciousness and Cognition (Proceeding of the 4th Conference of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness), 9, S25-S26.

  • Steriade, M., Gloor, P., Llinas, R. R., Lopes Da Silva, F., & Mesulam, M. M. (1990). Basic mechanisms of cerebral rhythic activities. EEG Clinical Neurophysiology, 76, 481-508.

  • Sebel, P. S., Lang, E., Rampil, I. J., White, P. F., Cork, R., Jopling, M., Smith, N. T., Glass, P. S., & Manberg, P. (1997). A multicenter study of bispectral electroencephalogram analysis monitoring anesthetic effect. Anesthesia and Analgesia, 84, 891-899.

  • Pantev, C. (1995). Evoked and induced gamma-band activity of the human cortex. Brain Topography, 7, 321-330.

  • Naatanen R, Syssoeva O, Takegata R. Automatic time perception in the human brain for intervals ranging from milliseconds to seconds Psychophysiology. 2004 Jul;41(4):660-3.

  • Libet, B. (1973). Electrical stimulation of cortex in human subjects, and conscious sensory aspects. In A.Iggo (Ed.), Somatosensory system. Handbook of sensory physiology. Vol. 2 (pp. 743-790). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

  • Lehmann, D., Strik, W. K., Henggeler, B., Koenig, T., & Koukkou, M. (1998). Brain electrical microstates and momentary conscious mind states as building blocks of spontaneous thinking: I. Visual imagery and abstract thoughts. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 29, 1-11.

Timing of neural events

  • Kutas, M. & Hillyard, S. A. (1980). Reading senseless sentences: Brain potentials reflect semantic incongruity. Science, 207, 203-205.

  • Koenig, T., Prichep, L. S., Valdes-Sosa, P., Braeker, E., Lehmann, D., Isenhart, R., & John, E. R. (2002). Developmental norms for brain microstates. International Journal Psychophysiology. In press.

  • Koch, C. (1998). The neuroanatomy of visual consciousness. In H.H.Jasper, L. Descarries, V. C. Costelucci, & S. Rossignol (Eds.), Advances in Neurology: Consciousness at the Frontiers of Neuroscience (pp. 229-241). Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven.

  • John, E. R., Prichep, L. S., Chabot, R., & Easton, P. (1990). Cross-spectral coherence during mental activity. EEG and Clinical Neurophysiology (Abstracts of the XIIth Internatinal Congress of Elctroencephalography and Cliical Neurophysiology), 75, S68.

  • Jefferys, J.G.R. (1995) Nonsynaptic Modulation of Neuronal Activity in the Brain: Electric Currents and Extracellular Ions. Physiol. Rev..75(4):689-723.

  • Herculano-Houzel, S., Munk, M. H. J., Neuenschwander, S., & Singer, W. (1999). Precisely synchronized oscillatory firing patterns require electroencephalographic activation. Journal of Neuroscience, 19, 3992-4010.

  • Fries, P., Neuenschwander, S., Engel, A. K., Goebel, R., & Singer, W. (2001). Rapid feature selective neuronal synchronization through correlated latencyshifting. Nature Neuroscience, 4, 194-200.

  • Engel, A. K. & Singer, W. (2001). Temporal binding and the neural correlates of sensory awareness. Trends in Cognitive Science, 1, 16-25.

  • Duffy, F. H., Jones, K., Bartels, P., McAnutty, G., & Albert, M. (1992). Unrestricted principal component analysis of brain electrical activity: Issues of data dimensionality artifact and utility. Brain Topography, 4, 291-308.

  • Efron, E. (1970). The minimum duration of a perception. Neuropsychologia, 8, 57-63.

Timing of neural events1

Timing of Neural Events

Implications for Consciousness and Binding

Presented by:

Jay Gunkelman, QEEG-Diplomate

QEEGJay @ SBCGlobal.net


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