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      Recurrence of spatio-temporal patterns of spikes and neural avalanches at the critical point of a non-equilibrium phase transition

      , 1 , 2

      BMC Neuroscience

      BioMed Central

      Twenty Second Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting: CNS*2013

      13-18 July 2013

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          Emergent complex neural dynamics

          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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            The organizing principles of neuronal avalanches: cell assemblies in the cortex?

            Neuronal avalanches are spatiotemporal patterns of neuronal activity that occur spontaneously in superficial layers of the mammalian cortex under various experimental conditions. These patterns reflect fast propagation of local synchrony, display a rich spatiotemporal diversity and recur over several hours. The statistical organization of pattern sizes is invariant to the choice of spatial scale, demonstrating that the functional linking of cortical sites into avalanches occurs on all spatial scales with a fractal organization. These features suggest an underlying network of neuronal interactions that balances diverse representations with predictable recurrence, similar to what has been theorized for cell assembly formation. We propose that avalanches reflect the transient formation of cell assemblies in the cortex and discuss various models that provide mechanistic insights into the underlying dynamics, suggesting that they arise in a critical regime.
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              Being Critical of Criticality in the Brain

              Relatively recent work has reported that networks of neurons can produce avalanches of activity whose sizes follow a power law distribution. This suggests that these networks may be operating near a critical point, poised between a phase where activity rapidly dies out and a phase where activity is amplified over time. The hypothesis that the electrical activity of neural networks in the brain is critical is potentially important, as many simulations suggest that information processing functions would be optimized at the critical point. This hypothesis, however, is still controversial. Here we will explain the concept of criticality and review the substantial objections to the criticality hypothesis raised by skeptics. Points and counter points are presented in dialog form.
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                Author and article information

                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Physics, University of Napoli "Federico II", Napoli & CNR-SPIN & INFN Sez. di Napoli, Italy
                [2 ]Department of Physics, University of Salerno, Salerno & INFN Sez di Napoli Gruppo Colll Salerno, Italy
                Contributors
                Conference
                BMC Neurosci
                BMC Neurosci
                BMC Neuroscience
                BioMed Central
                1471-2202
                2013
                8 July 2013
                : 14
                : Suppl 1
                : P89
                3704774 1471-2202-14-S1-P89 10.1186/1471-2202-14-S1-P89
                Copyright ©2013 de Candia and Scarpetta; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Twenty Second Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting: CNS*2013
                Paris, France
                13-18 July 2013
                Categories
                Poster Presentation

                Neurosciences

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