Criticality of spreading dynamics in hierarchical cluster networks without inhibition

Kaiser, Marcus
Goerner, Matthias
Hilgetag, Claus C.
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An essential requirement for the representation of functional patterns in complex neural networks, such as the mammalian cerebral cortex, is the existence of stable network activations within a limited critical range. In this range, the activity of neural populations in the network persists between the extremes of quickly dying out, or activating the whole network. The nerve fiber network of the mammalian cerebral cortex possesses a modular organization extending across several levels of organization. Using a basic spreading model without inhibition, we investigated how functional activations of nodes propagate through such a hierarchically clustered network. The simulations demonstrated that persistent and scalable activation could be produced in clustered networks, but not in random networks of the same size. Moreover, the parameter range yielding critical activations was substantially larger in hierarchical cluster networks than in small-world networks of the same size. These findings indicate that a hierarchical cluster architecture may provide the structural basis for the stable and diverse functional patterns observed in cortical networks.
Quantitative Biology - Neurons and Cognition, Physics - Physics and Society, Quantitative Biology - Populations and Evolution