Northwestern Events Calendar


Neuroscience Seminar Series: Dr. Dietmar Plenz | "Parabolic avalanche scaling in the synchronization of cortical cell assemblies"

When: Friday, September 22, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CT

Where: Ward Building, 5-230, 303 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Emily Larsen   (312) 503-1687

Group: Department of Neuroscience Seminars

Category: Lectures & Meetings



Neurons in the cerebral cortex fire coincident action potentials during ongoing activity and in response to sensory inputs. These synchronized cell assemblies are fundamental to cortex function, yet basic dynamical aspects of their size and duration are largely unknown. From mesoscale activity in non-human primates using local field potentials to neuronal synchronization observed in 2-photon imaging of neurons in the superficial cortex of awake mice, we show that synchronized cell assemblies organize as scale-invariant avalanches that quadratically grow with duration. The quadratic avalanche scaling was only found for correlated neurons, required temporal coarse-graining to compensate for spatial subsampling of the cortex, and suggests cortical dynamics to be critical as demonstrated in simulations of balanced E/I-networks. The corresponding time course of an inverted parabola with exponent of χ = 2 described cortical avalanches of coincident firing for up to 5 s duration over an area of many mm2. These parabolic avalanches maximized temporal complexity in the ongoing activity of prefrontal and somatosensory cortex and in visual responses of primary visual cortex. Our results identify a scale-invariant temporal order in the synchronization of highly diverse cortical cell assemblies in the form of parabolic avalanches.

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