Talk by Chris Buckley: Randy Moths at the Edge
The Ikegami Lab has decided to start a new Life and Mind seminar series on Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo. We will have occasional seminars on topics related to embodied cognitive science, the dynamics of life and mind, as well as the philosophy of temporality and subjectivity.
Everyone is welcome to join the seminar and the discussion. Also, please contact us if you want to visit us and to give a seminar presentation, and please circulate this announcement widely.
The first seminar will take place on Tuesday, July 19, at 4:30pm in Komaba, building 16, room 107. We are happy to have Christopher Buckley from the University of Sussex, UK. The title and abstract for his talk are as follows:
Randy Moths on the Edge: Pushing the Neural Criticality Hypothesis Beyond the Cerebral Cortex
Christopher L. Buckley
The hypothesis that biological systems exhibit dynamics critically poised at the boundary between order and chaos was popularised by Stuart Kauffman almost 20 year ago now. Recently neuroscientists have begun to take this idea seriously and there have been several experiments that have suggested that the statistical dynamics of the mammalian brain exhibit the hallmarks of criticality. All experimental work on the neural criticality hypothesis thus far has been done in the cerebral cortex. However, if we are to take Kauffamn’s original ideas seriously it should be possible to examine the idea of critical dynamics in other biological systems. The current problem is that the existing theoretical framework for neural criticality has been developed to respect the unique biology of the cortex. Consequently, it is not immediately clear how this could be extended to the details of other neural system let alone biology in general.
In this talk I retain a focus on neural criticality but discuss the possibility that it could play a central role in the dynamics of invertebrate sensory systems. To make progress on this issue I discuss a different theoretical framework for biological criticality inspired by the field of synergetics and based on the idea of bifurcation. I will apply these ideas to a biologically detailed model of the moth pheromone system and discuss how neural criticality could explain how sexually motivated male moths are able to locate females from more than a mile away. I will finish by discussing the prospect of establishing the ubiquity of critical dynamics in neural systems and the possible implications this could have for how we model and understand their behaviour.