Are intrinsic neural timescales related to sensory processing? Evidence from abnormal behavioral states

Federico Zilio, Javier Gomez-Pilar, Shumei Cao, Jun Zhang, Di Zang, Zengxin Qi, Jiaxing Tan, Tanigawa Hiromi, Xuehai Wu, Stuart Fogel, Zirui Huang, Matthias R. Hohmann, Tatiana Fomina, Matthis Synofzik, Moritz Grosse-Wentrup, Adrian M. Owen, Georg Northoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


The brain exhibits a complex temporal structure which translates into a hierarchy of distinct neural timescales. An open question is how these intrinsic timescales are related to sensory or motor information processing and whether these dynamics have common patterns in different behavioral states. We address these questions by investigating the brain's intrinsic timescales in healthy controls, motor (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, locked-in syndrome), sensory (anesthesia, unresponsive wakefulness syndrome), and progressive reduction of sensory processing (from awake states over N1, N2, N3). We employed a combination of measures from EEG resting-state data: auto-correlation window (ACW), power spectral density (PSD), and power-law exponent (PLE). Prolonged neural timescales accompanied by a shift towards slower frequencies were observed in the conditions with sensory deficits, but not in conditions with motor deficits. Our results establish that the spontaneous activity's intrinsic neural timescale is related to the neural capacity that specifically supports sensory rather than motor information processing in the healthy brain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117579
Early online dateNov 20 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Anesthesia
  • Auto-correlation window
  • Intrinsic neural timescales
  • Unresponsive wakefulness syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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