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Can a metaphor of physics contribute to MEG neuroscience research? Intermittent turbulent eddies in brain magnetic fields

Chaos, Solitons & Fractals 55
Mandell, A.J. Multi Media Imaging Laboratory (MMIL),
Department of Psychiatry,
UCSD School of Medicine,
La Jolla, CA, USA
2013 Biology, Physics

A common manifestation of nonlinear mathematical and experimental neurobiological dynamical systems in transition, intermittence, is currently being attended by concepts from physics such as turbulent eddy and the avalanche of critical systems. Do these concepts constitute an enticing poetry of dynamical universality or do these metaphors from physics generate more specific novel and relevant concepts and experiments in the neurosciences?

Using six graphics and ten measures derived from the ergodic theory of dynamical systems, we study the magnetoencephalic, MEG, records of taskless, “resting” human subjects to find consistent evidence for turbulent (chaotic) dynamics marked by intermittent turbulent eddies.

This brings up an apparent discrepancy via the juxtaposition of the superposition characteristics of magnetic fields and the non-superposition properties of turbulent flow. Treating this apparent inconsistency as an existent duality, we propose a physical model for how that might be the case. This leaves open the question: has the physical metaphor, turbulent eddy, contributed to a scientific understanding of the human resting MEG?

The article was published in. Chaos, Solitons & Fractals 55: 95-101.

Full article

This work was supported (in part) by the Fetzer Franklin Fund of the John E. Fetzer Memorial Trust.