Exploring criticality in the context of epilepsy

by Chris Hayward

16:00 (40 min) in USB G.003

It is thought that the brain operates close to a state of criticality, the hallmark of which is a divergence of the correlation length between system components. At the critical point, systems maximise their computational capacity and their dynamics show increased susceptibility to subsystem perturbations.

There is limited understanding between criticality and brain disorders. Here we explore the relationship between critical brain dynamics and epilepsy. We show how a simple model of global brain dynamics, when placed into a critical state, is capable of distinguishing between healthy controls and subjects with left Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.

The aim of this work is not only to shed light on the interplay between criticality and the brain, but also to move towards improving outcome for patients who undergo surgery in an attempt to reduce seizures. By using a simple model of global dynamics and criticality as a measure of 'healthy' activity, we hope to improve prediction of system dynamics after surgery, and ultimately increase the quality of life of those with epilepsy who undergo surgery.