Critical dynamics, anesthesia and information integration: Lessons from multi-scale criticality analysis of voltage imaging data

Critical dynamics are thought to play an important role in neuronal information-processing: near critical networks exhibit neuronal avalanches, cascades of spatiotemporal activity that are scale-free, and are considered to enhance information capacity and transfer. However, the exact relationship between criticality, awareness, and information integration remains unclear. To characterize this relationship, we applied multi-scale avalanche analysis to voltage-sensitive dye imaging data collected from animals of various species under different anesthetics. We found that anesthesia systematically varied the scaling behavior of neural dynamics, a change that was mirrored in reduced neural complexity. These findings were corroborated by applying the same analyses to a biophysically realistic cortical network model, in which multi-scale criticality measures were associated with network properties and the capacity for information integration. Our results imply that multi-scale criticality measures are potential biomarkers for assessing the level of consciousness.

Authors: Fekete T, Omer DB, O'Hashi K, Grinvald A, van Leeuwen C, Shriki O
Year of publication: 2018
Journal: NeuroImage, Volume 183, Pages 919-933

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