- Conference date: 17–21 September 2012
- Location: La Herradura, Spain
Neurons in the brain are wired into a synaptic network that spans multiple scales, from local circuits within cortical columns to fiber tracts interconnecting distant areas. However, brain function require the dynamic control of inter-circuit interactions on time-scales faster than synaptic changes. In particular, strength and direction of causal influences between neural populations (described by the so-called directed functional connectivity) must be reconfigurable even when the underlying structural connectivity is fixed. Such directed functional influences can be quantified resorting to causal analysis of time-series based on tools like Granger Causality or Transfer Entropy. The ability to quickly reorganize inter-areal interactions is a chief requirement for performance in a changing natural environment. But how can manifold functional networks stem "on demand" from an essentially fixed structure? We explore the hypothesis that the self-organization of neuronal synchronous activity underlies the control of brain functional connectivity. Based on simulated and real recordings of critical neuronal cultures in vitro, as well as on mean-field and spiking network models of interacting brain areas, we have found that "function follows dynamics", rather than structure. Different dynamic states of a same structural network, characterized by different synchronization properties, are indeed associated to different functional digraphs (functional multiplicity). We also highlight the crucial role of dynamics in establishing a structure-to-function link, by showing that whenever different structural topologies lead to similar dynamical states, than the associated functional connectivities are also very similar (structural degeneracy).
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