Queensland Brain Institute and School of Mathematics and Physics The University of Queensland Australia
Computational principles of neural wiring development
Thursday 14th of November 2013 at 12:30pm
Brain function depends on precise patterns of neural wiring. An axon navigating to its target must make guidance decisions based on noisy information from molecular cues in its environment. I will describe a combination of experimental and computational work showing that (1) axons may act as ideal observers when sensing chemotactic gradients, (2) the complex influence of calcium and cAMP levels on guidance decisions can be predicted mathematically, (3) the morphology of growth cones at the axonal tip can be understood in terms of just a few eigenshapes, and remarkably these shapes oscillate in time with periods ranging from minutes to hours. Together this work may shed light on how neural wiring goes wrong in some developmental brain disorders, and how best to promote appropriate regrowth of axons after injury.
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