Neuronal avalanches are a hallmark feature of critical dynamics in the brain. While the theoretical framework of a critical branching processes is generally accepted for describing avalanches during ongoing brain activity, there is a current debate about the corresponding dynamical description during stimulus-evoked activity. As the brain activity evoked by external stimuli considerably varies in magnitude across time, it is not clear whether the parameters that govern the neuronal avalanche analysis (a threshold or a temporal scale) should be adaptively altered to accommodate these changes. Here, the relationship between neuronal avalanches and time-frequency representations of stimulus-evoked activity is explored. We show that neuronal avalanche metrics, calculated under a fixed threshold and temporal scale, reflect genuine changes in the underlying dynamics. In particular, event-related synchronization and de-synchronization are shown to align with variations in the power-law exponents of avalanche size distributions and the branching parameter (neural gain), as well as in the spatio-temporal spreading of avalanches. Nonetheless, the scale-invariant behavior associated with avalanches is shown to be a robust feature of healthy brain dynamics, preserved across various periods of stimulus-evoked activity and frequency bands. Taken together, the combined results suggest that throughout stimulus-evoked responses the operating point of the dynamics may drift within an extended-critical-like region.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by Israel Science Foundation grants 504/17 and 51/11, the Israeli Centers for Research Excellence Program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee, and KAMIN, Israel Innovation Authority, 60485. This research was performed in a partial fulfillment of the PhD requirements of O.A. The citing of studies using animal testing does not reflect O.A.’s viewpoint.
© 2019, The Author(s).