Criticality in cerebral cortex: sensory function at the tipping point

Woodrow Shew, Department of Physics, University of Arkansas

Friday, April 26, 2019
9 a.m.

Hopeman 224

Like many complex dynamic networks, the cerebral cortex can undergo phase transitions.  Substantial experimental evidence, from our lab and others, now suggests that the cortex tends to operate nearby the tipping point of a particular type of phase transition, i.e. near criticality.  By doing so, the cortex obtains several functional advantages in the context of sensory processing.  Here I will focus on sensory dynamic range.  I will introduce the critical cortex hypothesis and present results from several experiments (and some computational models) that suggest the cerebral cortex maximizes sensory dynamic range by operating near criticality.