Uncovering the hidden wealth of physiological information in field potentials
Perception, action, and cognition depend upon coordinated neural activity. This coordination operates within noisy, distributed neural networks, which themselves change with development, aging, and disease. Extensive field potential and EEG research shows that neural oscillations interact with neuronal spiking. This interaction has been proposed to be a mechanism for implementing dynamic coordination between brain regions, placing oscillations at the fore of neuroscience research. Our work challenges our definitions neural oscillations and noise. Beginning from basic theory and modeling, we show that traditional analyses conflate aperiodic non-oscillatory activity with periodic oscillations. To do this, we leverage neural modeling and a breadth of empirical data—spanning human iPSC-derived cortical organoids, animal electrophysiology, invasive human EEG, and large-scale data mining. We show that, while not all things that appear oscillatory are so, the physiological information we can extract from the local field potential and EEG may nevertheless be far richer than previously thought, including nonsinusoidality of oscillation waveform shape and the aperiodic signal.