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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2007 May;75(5 Pt 1):051919. Epub 2007 May 29.

Field-theoretic approach to fluctuation effects in neural networks.

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NIH/NIDDK/LBM, Building 12A Room 4007, MSC 5621, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


A well-defined stochastic theory for neural activity, which permits the calculation of arbitrary statistical moments and equations governing them, is a potentially valuable tool for theoretical neuroscience. We produce such a theory by analyzing the dynamics of neural activity using field theoretic methods for nonequilibrium statistical processes. Assuming that neural network activity is Markovian, we construct the effective spike model, which describes both neural fluctuations and response. This analysis leads to a systematic expansion of corrections to mean field theory, which for the effective spike model is a simple version of the Wilson-Cowan equation. We argue that neural activity governed by this model exhibits a dynamical phase transition which is in the universality class of directed percolation. More general models (which may incorporate refractoriness) can exhibit other universality classes, such as dynamic isotropic percolation. Because of the extremely high connectivity in typical networks, it is expected that higher-order terms in the systematic expansion are small for experimentally accessible measurements, and thus, consistent with measurements in neocortical slice preparations, we expect mean field exponents for the transition. We provide a quantitative criterion for the relative magnitude of each term in the systematic expansion, analogous to the Ginsburg criterion. Experimental identification of dynamic universality classes in vivo is an outstanding and important question for neuroscience.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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