Neural complexity is a common denominator of human consciousness across diverse regimes of cortical dynamics

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Chiang, Jeffrey N. 
Mediano, Pedro A. M.  ORCID logo
Nespeca, Mark 
Saravanapandian, Vidya 

What is the common denominator of consciousness across divergent regimes of cortical dynamics? Does consciousness show itself in decibels or in bits? To address these questions, we introduce a testbed for evaluating electroencephalogram (EEG) biomarkers of consciousness using dissociations between neural oscillations and consciousness caused by rare genetic disorders. Children with Angelman syndrome (AS) exhibit sleep-like neural dynamics during wakefulness. Conversely, children with duplication 15q11.2-13.1 syndrome (Dup15q) exhibit wake-like neural dynamics during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. To identify highly generalizable biomarkers of consciousness, we trained regularized logistic regression classifiers on EEG data from wakefulness and NREM sleep in children with AS using both entropy measures of neural complexity and spectral (i.e., neural oscillatory) EEG features. For each set of features, we then validated these classifiers using EEG from neurotypical (NT) children and abnormal EEGs from children with Dup15q. Our results show that the classification performance of entropy-based EEG biomarkers of conscious state is not upper-bounded by that of spectral EEG features, which are outperformed by entropy features. Entropy-based biomarkers of consciousness may thus be highly adaptable and should be investigated further in situations where spectral EEG features have shown limited success, such as detecting covert consciousness or anesthesia awareness.

Article, /692/53/2421, /631/378/1385, /692/617/375/1399, /631/477, article
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Nature Publishing Group UK