1/f electrophysiological spectra in resting and drug-induced states can be explained by the dynamics of multiple oscillatory relaxation processes

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Neurophysiological recordings are dominated by arhythmical activity whose spectra can be characterised by power-law functions, and on this basis are often referred to as reflecting scale-free brain dynamics (1/fβ). Relatively little is known regarding the neural generators and temporal dynamics of this arhythmical behaviour compared to rhythmical behaviour. Here we used Irregularly Resampled AutoSpectral Analysis (IRASA) to quantify β, in both the high (5–100 Hz, βhf) and low frequency bands (0.1–2.5 Hz, βlf) in MEG/EEG/ECoG recordings and to separate arhythmical from rhythmical modes of activity, such as, alpha rhythms. In MEG/EEG/ECoG data, we demonstrate that oscillatory alpha power dynamically correlates over time with βhf and similarly, participants with higher rhythmical alpha power have higher βhf. In a series of pharmaco-MEG investigations using the GABA reuptake inhibitor tiagabine, the glutamatergic AMPA receptor antagonist perampanel, the NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine and the mixed partial serotonergic agonist LSD, a variety of effects on both βhf and βlf were observed. Additionally, strong modulations of βhf were seen in monkey ECoG data during general anaesthesia using propofol and ketamine. We develop and test a unifying model which can explain, the 1/f nature of electrophysiological spectra, their dynamic interaction with oscillatory rhythms as well as the sensitivity of 1/f activity to drug interventions by considering electrophysiological spectra as being generated by a collection of stochastically perturbed damped oscillators having a distribution of relaxation rates.HighlightsThe slope of the power spectrum (1/fβ) in the high frequency band is correlated with alpha band power in MEG/EEG/ECoG.Ketamine and LSD lower the value of β in the high frequency band whereas perampanel and tiagabine increase β.We propose a model to explain these data based on oscillators in the alpha band having a distribution of relaxation rates.

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