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Connectome needs electrophysiology to determine function – computer simulations can help, too

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Recent advancements in high-throughput analysis of brain connectivity have been revealing. However, without knowledge of neuronal dynamics, the connectome alone provides limited understanding of nervous system functionality and disorders. In particular, dysfunction of neuronal ion channels can cause major central nervous system disorders such as epilepsy that affects about 1% of the global population. Role of ion channels in electroshock-induced seizures can be investigated using the bang-sensitive family of mutant fruit flies. However, developmental compensation in mutants prevents relating channel activity to behavioral outcomes. Channel effects were successfully measured in isolation previously using a computational neuron model. This model only represented a single motoneuron without considering contributions from other neurons. The recent availability of electron micrograph connectivity from the fly larva allows reconstructing a more detailed anatomical morphology of this motoneuron, which includes the surrounding circuit. We propose to reconstruct this circuit on the computer to investigate effects of synaptic inputs on seizure activity via simulation.

This talk is part of the informal talks at the MRC LMB series.

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