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      Emergent complex neural dynamics

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          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.

          Abstract

          A large repertoire of spatiotemporal activity patterns in the brain is the basis for adaptive behaviour. Understanding the mechanism by which the brain's hundred billion neurons and hundred trillion synapses manage to produce such a range of cortical configurations in a flexible manner remains a fundamental problem in neuroscience. One plausible solution is the involvement of universal mechanisms of emergent complex phenomena evident in dynamical systems poised near a critical point of a second-order phase transition. We review recent theoretical and empirical results supporting the notion that the brain is naturally poised near criticality, as well as its implications for better understanding of the brain.

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          Most cited references 40

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          Neurophysiological architecture of functional magnetic resonance images of human brain.

          We investigated large-scale systems organization of the whole human brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data acquired from healthy volunteers in a no-task or 'resting' state. Images were parcellated using a prior anatomical template, yielding regional mean time series for each of 90 regions (major cortical gyri and subcortical nuclei) in each subject. Significant pairwise functional connections, defined by the group mean inter-regional partial correlation matrix, were mostly either local and intrahemispheric or symmetrically interhemispheric. Low-frequency components in the time series subtended stronger inter-regional correlations than high-frequency components. Intrahemispheric connectivity was generally related to anatomical distance by an inverse square law; many symmetrical interhemispheric connections were stronger than predicted by the anatomical distance between bilaterally homologous regions. Strong interhemispheric connectivity was notably absent in data acquired from a single patient, minimally conscious following a brainstem lesion. Multivariate analysis by hierarchical clustering and multidimensional scaling consistently defined six major systems in healthy volunteers-- corresponding approximately to four neocortical lobes, medial temporal lobe and subcortical nuclei- - that could be further decomposed into anatomically and functionally plausible subsystems, e.g. dorsal and ventral divisions of occipital cortex. An undirected graph derived by thresholding the healthy group mean partial correlation matrix demonstrated local clustering or cliquishness of connectivity and short mean path length compatible with prior data on small world characteristics of non-human cortical anatomy. Functional MRI demonstrates a neurophysiological architecture of the normal human brain that is anatomically sensible, strongly symmetrical, disrupted by acute brain injury, subtended predominantly by low frequencies and consistent with a small world network topology.
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            Structural insights into aberrant topological patterns of large-scale cortical networks in Alzheimer's disease.

            Recent research on Alzheimer's disease (AD) has shown that cognitive and memory decline in this disease is accompanied by disrupted changes in the coordination of large-scale brain functional networks. However, alterations in coordinated patterns of structural brain networks in AD are still poorly understood. Here, we used cortical thickness measurement from magnetic resonance imaging to investigate large-scale structural brain networks in 92 AD patients and 97 normal controls. Brain networks were constructed by thresholding cortical thickness correlation matrices of 54 regions and analyzed using graph theoretical approaches. Compared with controls, AD patients showed decreased cortical thickness intercorrelations between the bilateral parietal regions and increased intercorrelations in several selective regions involving the lateral temporal and parietal cortex as well as the cingulate and medial frontal cortex regions. Specially, AD patients showed abnormal small-world architecture in the structural cortical networks (increased clustering and shortest paths linking individual regions), implying a less optimal topological organization in AD. Moreover, AD patients were associated with reduced nodal centrality predominantly in the temporal and parietal heteromodal association cortex regions and increased nodal centrality in the occipital cortex regions. Finally, the brain networks of AD were about equally as robust to random failures as those of controls, but more vulnerable against targeted attacks, presumably because of the effects of pathological topological organization. Our findings suggest that the coordinated patterns of cortical morphology are widely altered in AD patients, thus providing structural evidence for disrupted integrity in large-scale brain networks that underlie cognition. This work has implications for our understanding of how functional deficits in patients are associated with their underlying structural (morphological) basis.
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              Spontaneous cortical activity in awake monkeys composed of neuronal avalanches.

              Spontaneous neuronal activity is an important property of the cerebral cortex but its spatiotemporal organization and dynamical framework remain poorly understood. Studies in reduced systems--tissue cultures, acute slices, and anesthetized rats--show that spontaneous activity forms characteristic clusters in space and time, called neuronal avalanches. Modeling studies suggest that networks with this property are poised at a critical state that optimizes input processing, information storage, and transfer, but the relevance of avalanches for fully functional cerebral systems has been controversial. Here we show that ongoing cortical synchronization in awake rhesus monkeys carries the signature of neuronal avalanches. Negative LFP deflections (nLFPs) correlate with neuronal spiking and increase in amplitude with increases in local population spike rate and synchrony. These nLFPs form neuronal avalanches that are scale-invariant in space and time and with respect to the threshold of nLFP detection. This dimension, threshold invariance, describes a fractal organization: smaller nLFPs are embedded in clusters of larger ones without destroying the spatial and temporal scale-invariance of the dynamics. These findings suggest an organization of ongoing cortical synchronization that is scale-invariant in its three fundamental dimensions--time, space, and local neuronal group size. Such scale-invariance has ontogenetic and phylogenetic implications because it allows large increases in network capacity without a fundamental reorganization of the system.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                12 October 2010
                Article
                10.1038/nphys1803
                1010.2530

                http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

                Custom metadata
                Nature Physics 6, 744-750 (2010)
                q-bio.NC cond-mat.dis-nn physics.bio-ph

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