Research Topic

Is life a globally critical phenomenon? And if so, why?

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Critical-like characteristics have been observed in a complete range
of scales of the dynamics of living systems, from the microscopic, such as that in individual ion channels, to the macroscopic, such as social interactions. ...

Critical-like characteristics have been observed in a complete range
of scales of the dynamics of living systems, from the microscopic, such as that in individual ion channels, to the macroscopic, such as social interactions.

This means that there is growing evidence that a living system is a globally critical system at all levels of its functionality.

Of course, critical-like characteristics are by nature multiscale, yet each of the critical characteristics of individual phenomena established to date addresses a single level of abstraction, a single functional domain.

Mesoscopic cross-level understanding of the living system in terms of the potential coupling between critical characteristics across various functional levels is still lacking in most phenomena where uni-level criticality of living systems has been established.

In this Research Topic, I would like the contributors to address this issue of the multilevel role of criticality in living systems.

In particular, functional advantages of criticality in single cells, organs and neuro-physiological control systems, potentially contributing to "critical neuro-physiology", (and similarly in the psychology and social behaviour of a living being, in particular that of a human) may be of importance for establishing such cross-level coupling.

Some fundamental questions involved in addressing the functional advantage of criticality may be:

a) Is the omnipresent criticality merely a by-product of the physical
laws involved?
b) Is it the mirror-like response to the criticality of the
environment? Is it merely a reflection of the surrounding "critical" world?
c) Is it ultimately an emergent phenomenon, non-trivial in function, developed through adaptive (evolutionary) refinement, permitting the system to achieve physical, physiological or social advantage?


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