Shaping the default model of the cortical activity
Maria V. Sánchez-Vives
IDIBAPS - Hospital Clinic (Barcelona)
Slow oscillations dominate the activity of both the intact and the isolated cerebral cortex and present similar characteristics across different cortical areas. These properties led to the suggestion that slow oscillations are the default emergent activity of the cortical network. Such default activity is a low complexity state that integrates neuronal membrane, synaptic activity and connectivity properties of the cortex. It provides a gauge of the state of the underlying network, being sensitive to variations of parameters such as ionic levels, temperature or excitatory/inhibitory balance. It also serves the identification of pathological changes, having been used to characterize transgenic models of neurological diseases. This cortical default activity is shaped and it acts as a powerful attractor leading to a breakdown of cortical connectivity and complexity. Getting out of this attractor is necessary for the brain to recover the levels of complexity associated with conscious states.