Self-organized criticality is a hallmark of complex dynamic systems at phase transitions. Systems that operate at or near criticality have large-scale fluctuations or “avalanches”, the frequency and duration power of which are best fit with a power law revealing them to be scale-free and fractal, and such power laws are ubiquitous. It is an attractive concept in neuroscience since spiking avalanches are exhibited by neural tissue, and may underpin how minuscule events could scale up to circuits and provide adaptive psychobiological function. Much is yet to be understood about criticality in vivo in the healthy brain and in disorders such as addiction, as drugs may alter the critical state’s “tuning” to generate drug seeking and dysphoria. Thus, here a novel toolset was developed to use neural avalanches and their self-similarity, rather than power law fit slope exponents as is canonically done, to quantify criticality in a previously collected high-density electrophysiological in vivo corticostriatal dataset from a mouse model of early cocaine abstinence. During behavioral quiescence, in the prefrontal cortex but not ventral striatum of cocaine-dosed mice, it was found that critical tuning is enhanced compared to drug-free controls. Additionally, an empirical biological demonstration of complexity’s theoretical correlation to criticality was shown in drug-free mice, was exponentially enhanced in drug-treated cortex, but was absent in the drug-treated striatum. As shown, quantifying criticality grants experimental support for the “critical brain hypothesis” and allows for statistical interpretation of inter-subject variability and development of further testable hypotheses in systems neuroscience.

See here a short video-teaser. Poster below…

One thought on “Poster 2022#9 – Wesley Charles SMITH – In vivo Quantification of Neural Criticality and Complexity in Mouse Cortex and Striatum in a Model of Cocaine Abstinence

  1. Don’t be afraid to chat w/ me on Zoom or open a Zoom call with me to discuss this poster! This is the first evidence for the mathematical correlation of criticality and complexity in vivo, and further evidence for criticality by using a small binning window with hundreds of neurons simultaneously in large swaths of tissue! for further contact

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