Oct 20, 2015

Optimal compensation for neuron death

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
David Gt BarrettChristian K Machens

Abstract

The brain has an impressive ability to withstand neural damage. Diseases that kill neurons can go unnoticed for years, and incomplete brain lesions or silencing of neurons often fail to produce any effect. How does the brain compensate for such damage, and what are the limits of this compensation? We propose that neural circuits optimally compensate for neuron death, thereby preserving their function as much as possible. We show that this compensation can explain changes in tuning curves induced by neuron silencing across a variety of systems, including the primary visual cortex. We find that optimal compensation can be implemented through the dynamics of networks with a tight balance of excitation and inhibition, without requiring synaptic plasticity. The limits of this compensatory mechanism are reached when excitation and inhibition become unbalanced, thereby demarcating a recovery boundary, where signal representation fails and where diseases may become symptomatic.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Neurons
Neural Tissue Damage
Brain
Cessation of Life
Neuronal Plasticity
Neural Stem Cells
Metabolic Inhibition
Brodmann Area 17
Area Striata Structure
Visual Cortex

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