Bringing Anatomical Information into Neuronal Network Models

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2022;1359:201-234. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-89439-9_9.


For constructing neuronal network models computational neuroscientists have access to wide-ranging anatomical data that nevertheless tend to cover only a fraction of the parameters to be determined. Finding and interpreting the most relevant data, estimating missing values, and combining the data and estimates from various sources into a coherent whole is a daunting task. With this chapter we aim to provide guidance to modelers by describing the main types of anatomical data that may be useful for informing neuronal network models. We further discuss aspects of the underlying experimental techniques relevant to the interpretation of the data, list particularly comprehensive data sets, and describe methods for filling in the gaps in the experimental data. Such methods of "predictive connectomics" estimate connectivity where the data are lacking based on statistical relationships with known quantities. Exploiting organizational principles that link the plethora of data in a unifying framework can be useful for informing computational models. Besides overarching principles, we touch upon the most prominent features of brain organization that are likely to influence predicted neuronal network dynamics, with a focus on the mammalian cerebral cortex. Given the still existing need for modelers to navigate a complex data landscape full of holes and stumbling blocks, it is vital that the field of neuroanatomy is moving toward increasingly systematic data collection, representation, and publication.

Keywords: Brain atlases; Brain connectivity; Cytoarchitecture; Neuroanatomy; Predictive connectomics.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Connectome* / methods
  • Mammals
  • Nerve Net* / physiology
  • Neurons