Neural architecture: from cells to circuits

J Neurophysiol. 2018 Aug 1;120(2):854-866. doi: 10.1152/jn.00044.2018. Epub 2018 May 16.


Circuit operations are determined jointly by the properties of the circuit elements and the properties of the connections among these elements. In the nervous system, neurons exhibit diverse morphologies and branching patterns, allowing rich compartmentalization within individual cells and complex synaptic interactions among groups of cells. In this review, we summarize work detailing how neuronal morphology impacts neural circuit function. In particular, we consider example neurons in the retina, cerebral cortex, and the stomatogastric ganglion of crustaceans. We also explore molecular coregulators of morphology and circuit function to begin bridging the gap between molecular and systems approaches. By identifying motifs in different systems, we move closer to understanding the structure-function relationships that are present in neural circuits.

Keywords: branching; development; morphology; tuning; wiring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Crustacea / cytology
  • Crustacea / physiology
  • Dendrites
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / cytology*
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / growth & development
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Retinal Neurons / cytology*
  • Retinal Neurons / physiology*
  • Strigiformes / anatomy & histology
  • Strigiformes / physiology