Stochastic Oscillation in Self-Organized Critical States of Small Systems: Sensitive Resting State in Neural Systems

Sheng Jun Wang, Guang Ouyang, Jing Guang, Mingsha Zhang*, K. Y. Michael Wong, Changsong Zhou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Self-organized critical states (SOCs) and stochastic oscillations (SOs) are simultaneously observed in neural systems, which appears to be theoretically contradictory since SOCs are characterized by scale-free avalanche sizes but oscillations indicate typical scales. Here, we show that SOs can emerge in SOCs of small size systems due to temporal correlation between large avalanches at the finite-size cutoff, resulting from the accumulation-release process in SOCs. In contrast, the critical branching process without accumulation-release dynamics cannot exhibit oscillations. The reconciliation of SOCs and SOs is demonstrated both in the sandpile model and robustly in biologically plausible neuronal networks. The oscillations can be suppressed if external inputs eliminate the prominent slow accumulation process, providing a potential explanation of the widely studied Berger effect or event-related desynchronization in neural response. The features of neural oscillations and suppression are confirmed during task processing in monkey eye-movement experiments. Our results suggest that finite-size, columnar neural circuits may play an important role in generating neural oscillations around the critical states, potentially enabling functional advantages of both SOCs and oscillations for sensitive response to transient stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Article number018101
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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