Dataset for: Traits of criticality in membrane potential fluctuations of pyramidal neurons in the CA1 region of rat hippocampus.

Evidence that neural circuits are operating near criticality has been provided at various levels of brain organization with a presumed role in maximizing information processing and multiscale activity association. Criticality has been linked to excitation at both the single cell and network levels, as action potential generation marks an obvious phase transition from a resting to an excitable state. Using in vitro intracellular recordings, we examine irregular, small amplitude membrane potential fluctuations from CA1 pyramidal neurons of Wistar male rats. We show that these fluctuations, confounded with noise, carry information relevant to the neuronal state. The underlying dynamics exhibit intermittent characteristics shown to describe the temporal fluctuations of the order parameter of a macroscopic system at its critical point even in the absence of firing. An externally applied stimulus serves as the control parameter, driving the system in and out of its critical state. Based on our experimental observations we calculate the equivalent of the isothermal critical exponent δh finding a value which depends on the applied stimulus. For each neuron there is a stimulus amplitude for which the critical behavior becomes most pronounced. The corresponding mean value of δh in the considered ensemble of neurons is δh ≈ 1.89, close to theoretical predictions for critical networks. Finally, we show that the firing rate of a neuron decreases exponentially with δh.