Historically, neural recordings from neurophysiology have tended to favour a localist perspective on brain function, biasing concepts and specifically computational models of for example working memory, attention and decision-making. In contrast to this, our recent research on multimodal neuroimaging has shown that the computational aspects of brain function are mainly non-local, i.e. distributed across brain regions (for reviews, e.g see Deco and Kringelbach 2014; 2016). A necessary step towards the derivation of general computational principles underlying brain states is to characterize and understand the underlying dynamical complexity (across brain regions), i.e. how communication takes place throughout the brain. Here, we will introduce two basic new concepts, “extrinsic perturbation” and “ignition” (intrinsic perturbation), which has proven helpful in order to analyze and understand the communication across brain areas underlying different brain states over time.