Excellence Workshop "Dynamical Network States, Criticality and Cortical Function"

March 25 - 28, 2017


Lehmkuhlenbusch 4
27753 Delmenhorst


Dr. Udo Ernst
Nergis Tömen
Universität Bremen

Cortical information processing relies heavily on the collective dynamics of neurons and networks distributed over many brain areas. A key concept for understanding this process is the idea that networks operate near a critical state, which offers several potential benefits for computation and information processing. However, there is still a large gap between research on criticality and understanding brain function:
For example,

  • cortical networks are not homogeneous but highly structured,
  • they are not in a state of spontaneous activation but strongly driven by changing external stimuli, and
  • they process information with respect to a concrete behavioral goal.

Moreover, critical states are just one side of the medal, since there are other concepts of how collective dynamics enables, shapes, and controls information processing; i.e. actively provide an operating point for cortical computation:

To name just a few, there are

  • balance between excitation and inhibition,
  • temporal coordination and multiplexing, and
  • task-dependent computation and signal routing (selective attention).

Understanding cortical function will only be possible by putting these conceptual ideas into a unifying framework and critically test them against experimental evidence.

In this workshop we will bring together experts representing different approaches for understanding the collective dynamics of cortical networks and their implications for information processing. Hereby we will focus on work with a concrete link to cortical physiology, structure or dynamics observed in experiments. Our goals are to establish novel links between communities, concepts and methods and to identify key problems that have to be addressed by future theoretical and experimental work.

Confirmed speakers

  • John M. Beggs (Indiana University Bloomington, USA)
  • Matthias Bethge (Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tuebingen, Germany)
  • Stefan Bornholdt (University of Bremen, Germany)
  • Mauro Copelli (Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Brazil)
  • Lucilla de Arcangelis (Second University of Naples, Aversa, Italy)
  • Thilo Gross (University of Bristol, United Kingdom)
  • Michael Herrmann (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
  • Anna Levina (IST Austria, Klosterneuburg, Austria)
  • Klaus Linkenkaer-Hansen (VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Paolo Massobrio (Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy)
  • Ruben Moreno-Bote (University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain)
  • Dietmar Plenz (National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, USA)
  • Viola Priesemann (Max-Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Goettingen, Germany)
  • Silvia Scarpetta (Università di Salerno, Fisciano, Italy)
  • Woodrow Shew (University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, USA)
  • Oren Shriki (Israel Brain Technologies, Ramat Hasharon, Israel)
  • Misha Tsodyks (Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel)
  • Ralf Wessel (Washington University, Saint Louis, USA)
  • Thilo Womelsdorf (York University, Toronto, Canada)


Saturday, March 25, 2017

                             Arrival, Check-in hotel
15:30 – 16:00    Coffee
16:00 – 16:15    Opening and Welcome
16:15 – 17:00    Mauro Copelli: Correlations induced by depressing synapses in
                             quenched critically self-organized networks
17:00 – 17:45    Klaus Linkenkaer-Hansen: Critical brain dynamics and its
                             perceptual implications
18:00 – 19:30    Dinner at HWK
19:30 – 20:30    Dietmar Plenz: Neuronal avalanches in cortical microcircuits

Sunday, March 26, 2017

09:30 – 10:15    Silvia Scarpetta: Critical behavior near a first-order phase transition
                              in a model of spiking neurons with a reservoir of
                             spatiotemporal patterns
10:15 – 11:00    Paolo Massobrio: Complexity of cortical network connectivity supports
                             self-organized critical dynamics
11:00 – 11:30    Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:15    Lucilla de Arcangelis: Temporal correlations in brain activity
12:15 – 13:00    Thilo Womelsdorf: Cell and Circuit motifs in primate fronto-cingulate
                             cortex biasing flexible stimulus selection in froto-parietal
                             neural networks
13:00 – 14:00    Lunch at HWK
14:00 – 14:45    Matthias Bethge: When will signatures of criticality provide
                             critical insights about neural computations?
14:45 – 15:30    Viola Priesemann: Assessing dynamical network states in vivo
                             despite subsampling
15:30 – 17:30    Poster Session and Coffee Break
17:30 – 18:30    John Beggs: Highly non-democratic information processing in
                             local cortical networks
18:30 – 20:00    Dinner at HWK
20:00 – 22:00    Discussions at the chimney

Monday, March 27, 2017

09:30 – 10:15    Ralf Wessel: Correlated variability in cerebral cortex at
                             criticality during vision
10:15 – 11:00    Woodrow Shew: Deviations from criticality in cerebral cortex
11:00 – 11:30    Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:15    Michael Herrmann: Dynamical vs. statistical criticality (Eurich vs. Ising)
12:15 – 13:00    Nergis Tömen: Tripping the rift? The role of criticality in flexible
                             visual information processing
13:00 – 14:00    Lunch at HWK
14:00 – 14:45    Misha Tsodyks: Synaptic origins of working memory capacity
14:45 – 15:30    Oren Shriki: On optimal information representation and criticality
15:30 – 16:00    Coffee Break
16:00                   Bus transfer to Bremen
                             guided tour in the old center of the town followed by individual dinner
22:30                   Return to Delmenhorst (directly to the hotel)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

09:00 – 09:45    Thilo Gross: Self-organized criticality in networks
09:45 – 10:30    Ruben Moreno-Bote: Multiplicative and additive modulation of
                             neuronal responses by population activity
10:30 – 11:00    Coffee Break
11:00 – 11:45    Stefan Bornholdt: Toy models for neural criticality: Dynamics and
                             function of adaptive networks from a physics perspective
11:45 – 12:30    Anna Levina: Driving the critical system: One step beyond
                             separation of time scales
12:30 – 12:45    Final Discussion
12:45 – 14:00    Lunch at HWK
14:00                  Departure

The workshop is fully booked. Registration is no longer possible.