Montag 12.03.2018 17:00 — 18:30
Max-Planck-Institut für empirische Ästhetik, ArtLab Foyer

The Westend Lectures on Brain and Cognition with Andreas Engel:
Role of intrinsic and extrinsic coupling in cognition

Dynamic functional coupling constitutes a key feature of brain activity, which exhibits rich spatiotemporal patterning and strongly modulates cognitive processing. Much of this coupling is intrinsically generated, i.e., not imposed by entrainment to an external stimulus or movement but emerging from the connectivity of cortical and subcortical networks. However, interactions with the environment can involve extrinsic coupling leading to modulation of brain dynamics by stimuli, actions, or temporally structured external events. I will discuss evidence for two distinct types of coupling modes which seem to reflect the operation of different coupling mechanisms. One type arises from phase coupling of band-limited oscillatory signals, whereas the other results from coupled aperiodic fluctuations of signal envelopes. The two coupling modes differ in their dynamics, their origins, their putative functions and possibly also their degree of extrinsic entrainment. I will propose that the concept of coupling modes can provide a framework for capturing the dynamics of neuronal interactions at multiple spatial and temporal scales.


Andreas K. Engel studied medicine and philosophy at Saarland University, Homburg, at the Technical University of Munich, and at the Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany. Having completed his medical exams, he obtained his doctorate in medicine from the Technical University Munich in 1987. Between 1987 and 1995 he worked as a post-doctoral fellow with Wolf Singer at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt, Germany. In 1995, he finished his habilitation in physiology at Frankfurt University Medical School. From 1996-2000, Engel headed a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research which was funded by the Heisenberg Program of the DFG. Between fall 1997 and summer 1998, he was also affiliated as a Daimler-Benz Fellow to the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study. From 2000-2002, he worked at the Jülich Research Centre as head of the Cellular Neurobiology Group at the Institute for Medicine. In 2002, he was appointed to the Chair of Neurophysiology at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. Engel is a member of the Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Hamburg. In 2011, Engel was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant on the topic “The merging of the senses: understanding multisensory experience”. Since 2011, he is the coordinator of Collaborative Research Centre SFB 936 “Multi-site communication in the brain”.