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Lévy walk dynamics explain gamma burst patterns in primate cerebral cortex

Liu, Y; Long, X; Martin, PR; Solomon, SG; Gong, P; (2021) Lévy walk dynamics explain gamma burst patterns in primate cerebral cortex. Communications Biology , 4 (1) 10.1038/s42003-021-02256-1. Green open access

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Abstract

Lévy walks describe patterns of intermittent motion with variable step sizes. In complex biological systems, Lévy walks (non-Brownian, superdiffusive random walks) are associated with behaviors such as search patterns of animals foraging for food. Here we show that Lévy walks also describe patterns of oscillatory activity in primate cerebral cortex. We used a combination of empirical observation and modeling to investigate high-frequency (gamma band) local field potential activity in visual motion-processing cortical area MT of marmoset monkeys. We found that gamma activity is organized as localized burst patterns that propagate across the cortical surface with Lévy walk dynamics. Lévy walks are fundamentally different from either global synchronization, or regular propagating waves, because they include large steps that enable activity patterns to move rapidly over cortical modules. The presence of Lévy walk dynamics therefore represents a previously undiscovered mode of brain activity, and implies a novel way for the cortex to compute. We apply a biophysically realistic circuit model to explain that the Lévy walk dynamics arise from critical-state transitions between asynchronous and localized propagating wave states, and that these dynamics yield optimal spatial sampling of the cortical sheet. We hypothesise that Lévy walk dynamics could help the cortex to efficiently process variable inputs, and to find links in patterns of activity among sparsely spiking populations of neurons.

Type: Article
Title: Lévy walk dynamics explain gamma burst patterns in primate cerebral cortex
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s42003-021-02256-1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-021-02256-1
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10129927
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