Neuronal long-range temporal correlations and avalanche dynamics are correlated with behavioral scaling laws

M.J. Palva, A. Zhigalov, J. Hirvonen, O. Korhonen, S. Palva, K. Linkenkaer-Hansen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Scale-free fluctuations are ubiquitous in behavioral performance and neuronal activity. In time scales from seconds to hundreds of seconds, psychophysical dynamics and the amplitude fluctuations of neuronal oscillations are governed by power-law-form longrange temporal correlations (LRTCs). In millisecond time scales, neuronal activity comprises cascade-like neuronal avalanches that exhibit power-law size and lifetime distributions. However, it remains unknown whether these neuronal scaling laws are correlated with those characterizing behavioral performance or whether neuronal LRTCs and avalanches are related. Here, we show that the neuronal scaling laws are strongly correlated both with each other and with behavioral scaling laws. We used source reconstructed magneto- and electroencephalographic recordings to characterize the dynamics of ongoing cortical activity. We found robust power-law scaling in neuronal LRTCs and avalanches in resting-state data and during the performance of audiovisual threshold stimulus detection tasks. The LRTC scaling exponents of the behavioral performance fluctuations were correlated with those of concurrent neuronal avalanches and LRTCs in anatomically identified brain systems. The behavioral exponents also were correlated with neuronal scaling laws derived from a resting-state condition and with a similar anatomical topography. Finally, despite the difference in time scales, the scaling exponents of neuronal LRTCs and avalanches were strongly correlated during both rest and task performance. Thus, long and short time-scale neuronal dynamics are related and functionally significant at the behavioral level. These data suggest that the temporal structures of human cognitive fluctuations and behavioral variability stem from the scaling laws of individual and intrinsic brain dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3585-3590
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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