Effective Brain–Computer Interfaces (BCIs) require that the time-varying activation patterns of 2-D neural ensembles be modelled. The cluster variation method (CVM) offers a means for the characterization of 2-D local pattern distributions. This paper provides neuroscientists and BCI researchers with a CVM tutorial that will help them to understand how the CVM statistical thermodynamics formulation can model 2-D pattern distributions expressing structural and functional dynamics in the brain. The premise is that local-in-time free energy minimization works alongside neural connectivity adaptation, supporting the development and stabilization of consistent stimulus-specific responsive activation patterns. The equilibrium distribution of local patterns, or configuration variables
, is defined in terms of a single interaction enthalpy parameter (h
) for the case of an equiprobable distribution of bistate (neural/neural ensemble) units. Thus, either one enthalpy parameter (or two, for the case of non-equiprobable distribution) yields equilibrium configuration variable values. Modeling 2-D neural activation distribution patterns with the representational layer of a computational engine, we can thus correlate variational free energy minimization
with specific configuration variable distributions. The CVM triplet configuration variables also map well to the notion of a M = 3 functional motif. This paper addresses the special case of an equiprobable unit distribution, for which an analytic solution can be found.