On simplicity and complexity in the brave new world of large-scale neuroscience

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2015 Jun;32:148-55. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2015.04.003. Epub 2015 Apr 29.


Technological advances have dramatically expanded our ability to probe multi-neuronal dynamics and connectivity in the brain. However, our ability to extract a simple conceptual understanding from complex data is increasingly hampered by the lack of theoretically principled data analytic procedures, as well as theoretical frameworks for how circuit connectivity and dynamics can conspire to generate emergent behavioral and cognitive functions. We review and outline potential avenues for progress, including new theories of high dimensional data analysis, the need to analyze complex artificial networks, and methods for analyzing entire spaces of circuit models, rather than one model at a time. Such interplay between experiments, data analysis and theory will be indispensable in catalyzing conceptual advances in the age of large-scale neuroscience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Datasets as Topic*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Networks, Computer*
  • Neurosciences / methods*