experiments on statistical and nonlinear physics and neuroscience


Adaptation maintains criticality

 ARTICLE  We measured activity in eye-attached turtle cortex prep using multi-site electrode recordings and well controlled visual stimuli. We found that visually evoked neuronal avalanches (and other evidence for criticality) exist in turtle visual cortex, but not during transient response to
 stimulus onset, nor outside of visual cortex. 
Collaboration with Ralf Wessel and Jeff Pobst at Washington University, St. Louis.  
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number (1308174).  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Population coupling in motor cortex

We use 3D motion capture to quantify the body state and 32 channel chronic electrode implants to capture the state of primary motor cortex.  We quantify changes in the complexity of unconstrained behavior and corresponding cortex unit activity due to pharmacological changes in the balance of excitation and inhibition.  We found that neurons that are strongly coupled to ongoing cortical activity are weakly coupled to body movements, and vice versa.  Funded by Foundational Questions Institute.

Inhibition and sensory dynamic range

 ARTICLE   TALK  We are testing the role of inhibition in sensory dynamic range in anesthetized and awake, behaving rodents.  This project is based on our previous in vitro studies showing that balanced excitation and inhibition are required to maintain criticality and maximize dynamic range in the cortex. Funded in part by Arkansas Biosciences Institute.

Spatial structure of cortical state

We precisely control spatially inhomogeneous patterns of neuromodulators (e.g. acetylcholine) in somatosensory cortex of rats while measuring neural response to whisker stimulation.  We find that changes in cortical state surprisingly are not spatially diffuse.  Moreover, the spatial inhomogeneity of cortical state can be advantageous for sensory detection.  This is a collaborative project with Julie Stenken's group at U Arkansas and is funded by NIH/NINDS.

Weekly lab meeting schedule

Fayetteville ranked #5 best city to live in US in 2017!  It's a great place to live during your PhD. (Ranked #3 in 2016)
  • 2016 Kylie McClanahan gets a SURF grant
  • 2015 Adaptation to criticality work is a 'Top Story' on NSF news 
  • 2014 Information capacity work featured in Nautilus science magazine. 
  • 2014 Work on inhibition and network dynamics featured as an Editor's Suggestion in PRL 
  • 2013 Dr. Shew accepted membership to Foundational Questions Institute
  • 2013 Dr. Shew receives Connors Faculty Fellowship

Woodrow L Shew

Assistant Professor

Shree H Gautam 


Patrick Kells

PhD student

Tazima Nur

PhD student

Srimoy Chakraborty

PhD student

Leila Fakhraei

PhD student

Vidit Agrawal

PhD student

Jingwen Li

PhD student

Doug Roisen

PhD student

Nichole Nichiniello

PhD student

Kylie McClanahan

Undergrad student

    Anesthetized rat somatosensory cortex recordings during whisker stimulation. Available here.

    Ex vivo turtle visual cortex recordings during visual stimulation.  Available here.
PDF 2017 "Adaptation towards scale-free dynamics improves cortical stimulus discrimination at the cost of reduced detection" Clawson WP, Wright NC, Wessel R, Shew WL, PLOS Comp Biol e1005574

PDF 2017 "State-dependent intrinsic predictability of cortical network dynamics" Fakhraei, L, Gautam, S. H., Shew, W.L., PLOS One e0173658

PDF 2016 "Cortical Entropy, Mutual Information and Scale-Free Dynamics in Waking Mice" Fagerholm, E.D., Scott, G., Shew, W.L., Song, C., Leech, R., Knöpfel, T., and Sharp, D.J. Cereb. Cortex 1–8

PDF 2016 "Feedback control stabilization of critical dynamics via resource transport on multilayer networks: How glia enable learning dynamics in the brain." Y. S. Virkar, W. L. Shew, J. G. Restrepo, E. Ott,  Phys. Rev. E. 94, 42310.

PDF 2015 "Maximizing Sensory Dynamic Range by Tuning the Cortical State to Criticality" SH Gautam, TT Hoang, K McClanahan, SK Grady, WL Shew PLoS Comput. Biol. 11(12): e1004576

PDF 2015 "Adaptation to sensory input tunes visual cortex to criticality" WL Shew, WP Clawson, J Pobst, Y Karimipanah, R Wessel Nat. Phys. 
PDF 2015 "Cascades and Cognitive State : Focused Attention Incurs Subcritical Dynamics"Fagerholm, E D, Lorenz, R, Scott, G, Dinov, M, Hellyer, PJ, Mirzaei, N, Leeson, C, Carmichael, DW, Sharp, DJ, Shew, WL, Leech, R, J. Neurosci.35:4626 – 4634

PDF 2014 "Voltage Imaging of Waking Mouse Cortex Reveals Emergence of Critical Neuronal DynamicsScott, G, Fagerholm, E D, Mutoh, H, Leech, R, Sharp, DJ,  Shew, WL, Knopfel, T.  J. Neurosci. 34:16611–16620
      PDF 2014 "Inhibition causes ceaseless dynamics in networks of excitable nodes" Larremore, DB, Shew, WL, Ott, E, Sorrentino, F, Restrepo, JG Phys. Rev. Lett.112, p. 138103

      Larremore DB, Shew WL, Restrepo JG (2014) Critical dynamics in complex networks. In: Plenz D, Niebur E (eds) Crit. Neural Syst. Wiley, Weinheim, Germany, pp 365–392

      Yang H, Shew WL, Roy R, Plenz D (2014) Peak variability and optimal performance in cortical networks at criticality. In: Plenz D, Niebur E (eds) Crit. Neural Syst. Wiley, Weinheim, Germany, pp 335–346
      PDF 2013 "Millisecond, micron precision multi-whisker detector" Grady, SK, Hoang, TT, Gautam, SH, Shew, WL PLoS ONE 8, p. e73357
      TXT 2013 "Neuronal Avalanches" Shew, WL Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience: SpringerReference DOI: 10.1007/SpringerReference_349302
      PDF 2012 "Maximal variability of phase synchrony in cortical networks with neuronal avalanches" Yang, H, Shew, WL, Roy, R, Plenz, D J. Neurosci. 32, p. 1061
      PDF 2012 "The functional benefits of criticality in the cortex" Shew, WL, Plenz, D The Neuroscientist 1073858412445487
      PDF 2011 "Information capacity and transmission are maximized in balanced cortical networks with neuronal avalanches" Shew, WL, Yang, H, Yu, S, Roy, R, Plenz, D J. Neurosci. 31, p. 55
      PDF 2011 "Predicting criticality and dynamic range in complex networks: effects of topology" Larremore, D, Shew, WL, Restrepo, JG, Phys. Rev. Lett.106, p. 058101
      video 2011 "Multi-electrode array recordings of neuronal avalanches in organotypic cultures" Plenz, D, Stewart, CV, Shew, WL, Yang, H, Klaus, A, Bellay, T J. Vis. Exp. 54
      PDF 2011 "Effects of network topology, transmission delays, and refractoriness on the response of coupled excitable systems to a stochastic stimulus" Larremore, D, Shew, WL, Ott, E, Restrepo, JG, Chaos21, p. 025117
      PDF 2010 "Simultaneous multi-electrode array recording and two-photon calcium imaging of neural activity" Shew, WL, Bellay, T, Plenz, D, J. Neurosci. Meth.192, p. 75
      PDF 2009 "Neuronal avalanches imply maximum dynamic range in cortical networks at criticality" Shew, WL, Yang, H, Petermann, T, Roy, R, Plenz, D J. Neurosci. 29, 15595
      TXT 2009 "Des particules instrumentées pour une mesure de flux de chaleur – illustration en convection de Rayleigh-Benard" M Gibert, W L Shew, P Metz, Y Gastieul, J-F Pinton Techniques de l'Ingenieur, Ref. RE134
      PDF 2008 "Polymer and surface roughness effects on the drag crisis for falling spheres" Lyotard, N, Shew, WL , Bocquet, L, & Pinton JF, Euro. Phys. J. B 60, 469
      PDF 2007 "Lagrangian temperature, velocity and local heat flux measurement in Rayleigh-Benard convection" Gasteuil, Y, Shew, WL , Gibert, M, Chilla, F, Castaing, B, & Pinton JF, [COVER] Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 234302
      PDF 2007 "An instrumented tracer for Lagrangian measurements in Rayleigh-Benard convection" Shew, WL , Gasteuil, Y, Gibert, M, Metz, P, & Pinton JF,Rev. Sci. Instruments
      PDF 2006 "Force measurements on a rising bubble" Shew, WL, Poncet, S and Pinton, JF, J. Fluid Mech. 569, p. 51
      PDF 2006 "Dynamical model of bubble path instability" Shew, WL and Pinton, JF, Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 144508
      PDF 2006 "Viscoelastic effects on the dynamics of a rising bubble." Shew, WL and Pinton, JF, J. Stat. Mech. January, P01009
      PDF 2005 "Liquid sodium model of geophysical core convection" Shew, WL, and Lathrop, DP, Phys. Earth Planet. Int. 153, p. 136
      PDF 2003 "Lorentz force effects in magnetoturbulence" Sisan, DR, Shew, WL, and Lathrop, DP, Phys. Earth Planet. Int. 135, p. 137
      2002 "Mechanically forced and thermally driven flows in liquid sodium" Shew, WL, Sisan, DR, and Lathrop, DP, Magnetohydrodynamics 38, p. 121
      2001 "Laboratory experiments on the transition to MHD dynamos" Lathrop, DP, Shew, WL, and Sisan, DR, Plasma Phys. and Controlled Fusion 43, p. 151-A160 Suppl. 12A
      PDF 1999 "Taming chaos with disorder in a pendulum array" Shew, WL, Coy, H, and Lindner, JF, Am. J. Phys. 67, p. 703
Subpages (1): Whisker project data