Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience

Living Edition
| Editors: Dieter Jaeger, Ranu Jung

Phase Transitions, Neural Population Models and

  • D. Alistair Steyn-Ross
  • Moira Steyn-Ross
  • Jamie Sleigh
Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7320-6_73-2


A neural population model pictures the cortex as a continuum of excitable tissue comprised of densely interconnected excitatory and inhibitory neurons, with cortical activity encoded as population-average firing rates. For certain ranges of cortical parameters, such models can exhibit multistability, with access to multiple equilibrium (homogeneous and stationary) and nonequilibrium (patterned or dynamic) spatiotemporal states. These distinct states may be identified with particular phases of normal and pathological brain activity such as wakefulness, anesthetic coma, and seizure. Transitions between states can be induced by variations in a control parameter such as neurotransmitter concentration and subcortical stimulation and can be likened to the thermodynamic phase transitions (e.g., melting, freezing) of physical science.

Detailed Description

Equilibrium Phase Transitions

The underlying mechanisms of commonly observed thermodynamic phase transitions – such as water...


Hopf Bifurcation Nonequilibrium Phase Transition Equilibrium Phase Transition Turing Bifurcation Thermodynamic Phase Transition 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Alistair Steyn-Ross
    • 1
  • Moira Steyn-Ross
    • 1
  • Jamie Sleigh
    • 2
  1. 1.School of EngineeringUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Waikato Clinical SchoolUniversity of Auckland, Waikato HospitalHamiltonNew Zealand