Curr Biol. 2015 Aug 31;25(17):R742-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.07.072.


Our cognitive abilities emerge from the coordinated activity of neurons in the brain. The average human brain contains 86 billion neurons that are richly interconnected through synapses, contact points for electrochemical communication. Patterns of synaptic connectivity create functional ensembles of neurons, called neural circuits, which mediate information processing in the brain. Neural circuits can be deconstructed further into basic motifs ('microcircuits') involving feedforward and feedback connections between different types of neurons that exert excitatory or inhibitory influence. At each level of neural circuitry, the opposing forces of excitation and inhibition are normally held in balance through a variety of homeostatic mechanisms.

MeSH terms

  • Brain
  • Epilepsy / etiology*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*