Critical phenomena and noise-induced phase transitions in neuronal networks

Lee, K. -E. E.; Lopes, M. A.; Mendes, J. F. F.; Goltsev, A. V.
We study numerically and analytically first- and second-order phase transitions in neuronal networks stimulated by shot noise (a flow of random spikes bombarding neurons). Using an exactly solvable cortical model of neuronal networks on classical random networks, we find critical phenomena accompanying the transitions and their dependence on the shot noise intensity. We show that a pattern of spontaneous neuronal activity near a critical point of a phase transition is a characteristic property that can be used to identify the bifurcation mechanism of the transition. We demonstrate that bursts and avalanches are precursors of a first-order phase transition, paroxysmal-like spikes of activity precede a second-order phase transition caused by a saddle-node bifurcation, while irregular spindle oscillations represent spontaneous activity near a second-order phase transition caused by a supercritical Hopf bifurcation. Our most interesting result is the observation of the paroxysmal-like spikes. We show that a paroxysmal-like spike is a single nonlinear event that appears instantly from a low background activity with a rapid onset, reaches a large amplitude, and ends up with an abrupt return to lower activity. These spikes are similar to single paroxysmal spikes and sharp waves observed in electroencephalographic (EEG) measurements. Our analysis shows that above the saddle-node bifurcation, sustained network oscillations appear with a large amplitude but a small frequency in contrast to network oscillations near the Hopf bifurcation that have a small amplitude but a large frequency. We discuss an amazing similarity between excitability of the cortical model stimulated by shot noise and excitability of the Morris-Lecar neuron stimulated by an applied current.
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Type of Publication:
Physical Review E
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