Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization -- Department for Nonlinear Dynamics and Network Dynamics Group
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Symposium on Perspectives in Computational Neuroscience

Friday, 01.08.2014 10 s.t.

Balancing optimal information processing and sustainable dynamics in vivo

by Dr. Viola Priesemann
from MPI for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Goettingen, Germany

Contact person: Fred Wolf


Ludwig Prandtl lecture hall


Self-organized criticality (SOC) has been proposed to govern neural activity, because SOC might provide the basis for optimal information processing. However, at SOC also can show runaway activity spontaneously. Evidence for SOC has been obtained for neural activity in vitro, but not yet for spiking activity in vivo. Therefore we analyzed highly parallel spike recordings from awake rats, cats and monkeys and compared these to spike activity from established SOC models. We found clear differences between the neural and the model activity. These differences indicated that the brain operates close to SOC, but in a slightly sub-critical regime. These results suggest that the brain seeks a balance between avoiding runaway activity, which can occur spontaneously at SOC, and optimizing information processing, which has been linked to SOC. For my future research, I aim at characterizing this balance combining information theoretic and physiological perspectives.

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