4 years ago

Comparative approximations of criticality in a neural and quantum regime

Under a variety of conditions, non-linear systems with many degrees of freedom tend to evolve towards complexity and criticality. Over the last few decades, a steady proliferation of models re: nonlinear and far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics of metastable, many-valued systems arose, serving as attributes of a ‘critical’ attractor landscape. Building off recent data citing trademark aspects of criticality in the brain—including: power-laws, scale-free (1/f) behavior (scale invariance, or scale independence, critical slowing, and avalanches it has been conjectured that operating at criticality entails functional advantages such as: optimized neural computation and information processing; memory; large dynamical ranges; long-range communication; and “enhanced ability to react to highly diverse stimuli.” In short, critical dynamics provide a necessary condition to neurobiologically significant elements of brain dynamics. These theoretical predictions have been verified in specific models such as Boolean networks, liquid state machines, and neural networks. These findings inspired the neural criticality hypothesis, which proposes that “the brain operates in a critical state because the associated optimal computational capabilities provide an evolutionarily advantage. This paper develops in three parts. After developing the critical landscape, we then shift gears to rediscover another inroad to criticality via stochastic quantum field theory and dissipative dynamics. The existence of these two approaches deserves some consideration, given both neural and quantum criticality hypotheses propose specific mechanisms that leverage the same phenomena. This suggests that understanding the quantum approach could help to shed light on brain-based modeling. In the third part, we will turn to Whitehead's actual entities and modes of perception in order to demonstrate a concomitant logic underwriting both models. In the discussion, I briefly motivate a reading of criticality and its properties as responsive to the characterization of tenets from Eastern traditions.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0079610717301232

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