Neuronal avalanches have become an ubiquitous tool to describe the activity of large neuronal assemblies. The emergence of scale-free statistics with well-defined exponents has led to the belief that the brain might operate near a critical point. Yet not much is known in terms of how the different exponents arise or how robust they are. Using calcium imaging recordings of dissociated neuronal cultures we show that the exponents are not universal, and that significantly different exponents arise with different culture preparations, leading to the existence of different universality classes. Naturally developing cultures show avalanche statistics consistent with those of a mean-field branching process, however, cultures grown in the presence of folic acid metabolites appear to be in a distinct universality class with significantly different critical exponents. Given the increased synaptic density and number of feedback loops in folate reared cultures, our results suggest that network topology plays a leading role in shaping the avalanche dynamics. We also show that for both types of cultures pronounced correlations exist in the sizes of neuronal avalanches indicating size clustering, being much stronger in folate reared cultures.
Scientific Reports – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 21, 2018
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