Metastability is a property of systems composed of many interacting parts wherein the parts exhibit simultaneously a tendency to function autonomously (local segregation) and a tendency to cooperate (global integration). We study anisotropically coupled map lattices and discover that for specific values of the coupling control parameters the entire system transits to a metastable regime. We show that this regime manifests a quasi-stable state in which the system can flexibly switch to another such state. We
briefly discuss the relevance of our findings for information processing, functional integration, etastability
in the brain, and phase transitions in complex systems.