The Criticality Hypothesis: How Local Cortical Networks Might Optimize Information Processing


Wednesdays@NICO Seminar, Noon, February 28 2007, Chambers Hall, Lower Level

Prof. John Beggs, Indiana University


Several models suggest that neural networks should operate near a critical point to optimize information transmission, information storage, computational power, and stability. To test this, we recorded cortical slices and cultures on 60-channel and 512-channel multielectrode arrays. Networks produced avalanches of spikes and local field potentials whose sizes were distributed according to a power law, reminiscent of critical phenomena. Moreover, some avalanches occurred in precisely repeating patterns that could be used to store information. These data are consistent with the criticality hypothesis.