From Michael R. (ma rz6 2 AT yah oo.c om):
Re: Brain lives at “edge of chaos” (March 18, 2009): It was surprising, but reassuring to my own theoretical speculations, to see the original work of Per Bak and Kan Chen (Self-Organized Criticality in Complex Systems), returning to the fore in this type of brain research. Their research, which I first read of in Scientific American back in the late 1980’s, has rich application possibilities.
Likewise, however, Stuart Kaufman’s work on Poised Systems (Anti-Chaos in Gene Networks; published not long after the Criticality article, also in Sci Am) would be, conceptually, just as useful in terms of description of behavior. Kaufman posited “poised systems” as existing on the “threshold of order and chaos”, and also posited an “anti-chaos” (opposing complete system breakdown/failure) function to this behavior.
Both owe a bit of gratitude to the late Ilya Prigogine’s work on higher order restructuring (which I predict will make a comeback in this field), and which describes the global behavior of numerous complex systems existing in a “far from equilibrium” state, and, how said systems transition from this state to “higher order” states. The researchers are no doubt familiar with this work (I assume), but might want to revisit it, perhaps to save them some time.
Regarding the article’s last paragraph: I submit that one approach would be using brain scans of people engaged in a learning process (and/or creative process; with control for non-learning/passive cognitive sates), and use statistical/visual comparisons to formulate the conceptual model. For a more artful/poetic description of this, view my short essay, The ‘Art of Learning’, on my chaosmosis (dot) net website... just follow the writing and essays links.