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The concept of universality proposes that dynamical systems with the same power law behaviors are equivalent at large scales. We test this hypothesis on the Earth's crust and the epileptic brain, and discover that power laws also govern the distributions of seizure energies and recurrence times. This robust correspondence is extended over seven statistics, including the direct and inverse Omori laws. We also verify in an animal seizure model the earthquake-driven hypothesis that power law statistics co-exist with characteristic scales, as coupling between constitutive elements increases towards the synchronization regime. These observations point to the universality of the dynamics of coupled threshold oscillators for systems even as diverse as Earth and brain and suggest a general strategy for forecasting seizures, one of neurosciences' grails.
They both start with tiny, barely perceptible tremors that lead up to a cataclysmic climax - and now it seems that the similarities between earthquakes and epileptic seizures run deep. Seismology could even hold the key to new ways of predicting and avoiding seizures.