By John Beggs (Indiana University, Bloomington, IN). November 7th, 2022.

Much evidence seems to suggest the cortex operates near a critical point, yet a single set of exponents defining its universality class has not been found. In fact, when critical exponents are estimated from data, they widely differ across species, individuals of the same species, and even over time, or depending on stimulus. Interestingly, these exponents still approximately hold to a dynamical scaling relation.

Here we show that the theory of quasicriticality, an organizing principle for brain dynamics, can account for this paradoxical situation. As external stimuli drive the cortex, quasicriticality predicts a departure from criticality along a Widom line with exponents that decrease in absolute value, while still holding approximately to a dynamical scaling relation. We show that predictions from quasicriticality are consistent with spiking data from cortical slice cultures and MEG data from humans.

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