Quantifying the distance to criticality under subsampling
© Wilting and Priesemann 2015
Published: 18 December 2015
Neuronal systems have been proposed to operate close to criticality. But how far from criticality are they precisely? We developed a novel method to determine the distance to criticality from data. Importantly, our method is reliable under subsampling, i.e. the experimental constraint that in many dynamical systems only a small fraction of all agents can be sampled. Thereby, our novel approach for the first time allows to determine the distance to criticality without bias from spiking activity in vivo, which in general is strongly subsampled.
In more detail, neuronal systems have been proposed to operate close to criticality, as power-law distributions of the avalanche size have been found for local field potentials from in vitro preparations , to human cortex . Criticality is an attractive candidate state for neural dynamics, because in models criticality maximizes processing capacities . However, it has been widely overlooked that criticality also comes with the risk of spontaneous runaway activity (epilepsy). Recent experiments suggest that spiking activity in rats, cats, and monkeys, is in a sub-critical regime, keeping a safety-margin from criticality . Quantifying the precise distance to criticality may help to shed light on how the brain maximizes its information processing capacities without risking runaway activity.
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