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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Cingulate seizure-like activity reveals neuronal avalanche regulated by network excitability and thalamic inputs

José Jiun-Shian Wu12, Wei-Pang Chang23, Hsi-Chien Shih2, Chen-Tung Yen1 and Bai Chuang Shyu23*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Life Science, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10617, Taiwan

2 Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei 11529, Taiwan

3 Graduate Institute of Life Sciences, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei 11490, Taiwan

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BMC Neuroscience 2014, 15:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-15-3

Published: 3 January 2014



Cortical neurons display network-level dynamics with unique spatiotemporal patterns that construct the backbone of processing information signals and contribute to higher functions. Recent years have seen a wealth of research on the characteristics of neuronal networks that are sufficient conditions to activate or cease network functions. Local field potentials (LFPs) exhibit a scale-free and unique event size distribution (i.e., a neuronal avalanche) that has been proven in the cortex across species, including mice, rats, and humans, and may be used as an index of cortical excitability. In the present study, we induced seizure activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) with medial thalamic inputs and evaluated the impact of cortical excitability and thalamic inputs on network-level dynamics. We measured LFPs from multi-electrode recordings in mouse cortical slices and isoflurane-anesthetized rats.


The ACC activity exhibited a neuronal avalanche with regard to avalanche size distribution, and the slope of the power-law distribution of the neuronal avalanche reflected network excitability in vitro and in vivo. We found that the slope of the neuronal avalanche in seizure-like activity significantly correlated with cortical excitability induced by γ-aminobutyric acid system manipulation. The thalamic inputs desynchronized cingulate seizures and affected the level of cortical excitability, the modulation of which could be determined by the slope of the avalanche size.


We propose that the neuronal avalanche may be a tool for analyzing cortical activity through LFPs to determine alterations in network dynamics.

Neuronal avalanche; Epilepsy; Seizure-like activities; Thalamocortical circuit; Cortical dynamics