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Nonlinear Dynamics of Networks

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Neuronal avalanches and coherence potentials

Dietmar Plenz

National Institute of Mental Health


Abstract:   The myriads of interactions between brain cells are exquisitely balanced. They take on the form of neuronal avalanches, spatiotemporal cascades of synchrony outbursts that are similar at different temporal and spatial scales as expected for systems in a critical state. Such scale-invariance, however, is difficult to reconcile with information processing, which ultimately requires a threshold dynamics to allow for decision making. Deep inside the avalanche dynamics, a tipping point emerges where local bursts, once they have reached a minimal size, spawn perfect clones of activity at other sites in the brain. The co-existence of these 'coherence potentials' with scale-invariant brain avalanches might provide the basic building blocks for information processing in the brain.

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