By Miguel Muñoz (Granada, Spain).

Advancing our knowledge of how the brain processes information remains a key challenge in neuroscience. Importantly, the brain, even at rest, is in an energetically costly state of ongoing activity, whose origin and meaning still need to be fully elucidated. An inspiring hypothesis suggests that such activity is generated by an underlying critical dynamics, at the edge between order and disorder. Here we combine existing approaches that have not been investigated side by side before, including a phenomenological renormalization group approach and disordered-systems techniques, to quantitatively analyze experimental datasets of thousands of simultaneously recorded neurons across the mouse brain. We find strong signatures of scaling and near-to-critical behavior across regions, shedding new light onto the meaning of ongoing brain activity.

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