Consciousness is supported by complex patterns of brain activity which are indicative of irreversible nonequilibrium dynamics. While the framework of stochastic thermodynamics has facilitated the understanding of physical systems of this kind, its application to infer the level of consciousness from empirical data remains elusive. We faced this challenge by calculating entropy production in a multivariate Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process fitted to Functional magnetic resonance imaging brain activity recordings. To test this approach, we focused on the transition from wakefulness to deep sleep, revealing a monotonous relationship between entropy production and the level of consciousness. Our results constitute robust signatures of consciousness while also advancing our understanding of the link between consciousness and complexity from the fundamental perspective of statistical physics.
|Journal||Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics|
|State||Published - Feb 2023|