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Models wagging the dog: are circuits constructed with disparate parameters?

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 14:18 authored by Thomas NowotnyThomas Nowotny, Attila Szucs, Rafael Levi, Allen I. Selverston
In a recent article, Prinz, Bucher, and Marder (2004) addressed the fundamental question of whether neural systems are built with a fixed blueprint of tightly controlled parameters or in a way in which properties can vary largely from one individual to another, using a database modeling approach. Here, we examine the main conclusion that neural circuits indeed are built with largely varying parameters in the light of our own experimental and modeling observations. We critically discuss the experimental and theoretical evidence, including the general adequacy of database approaches for questions of this kind, and come to the conclusion that the last word for this fundamental question has not yet been spoken.


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Neural Computation







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  • Informatics Publications


Originality: This work refutes the claim (Prinz AA et al. (2004) Nat Neurosci 7(12):1345-52) that it has been shown that neural systems can be assembled with completely different underlying configurations while exhibiting the same observed behavior as seen in experiments. This is a fundamental issue in neuroscience and this article is essential in getting the facts right. Rigour: The work comprises theoretical modeling work on small motor systems (my work), experiments on the action of modulators in small motor systems (A Szucs) and data of isolated identified cells (R Levi). Significance: This work has the potential to rectify a dangerous misunderstanding in the field and have an important impact on how (or rather how not) to use computational methods in neuronscience. Impact: The work elaborates on an issue that has attracted enormous attention after the original work of Prinz et al. and a similar impact is expected for this contrary view.

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