SummaryElectrical synapses between interneurons contribute to synchronized firing and network oscillations in the brain. However, little is known about how such networks respond to excitatory synaptic input. To investigate this, we studied electrically coupled Golgi cells (GoC) in the cerebellar input layer. We show with immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, and electrophysiology that Connexin-36 is necessary for functional gap junctions (GJs) between GoC dendrites. In the absence of coincident synaptic input, GoCs synchronize their firing. In contrast, sparse, coincident mossy fiber input triggered a mixture of excitation and inhibition of GoC firing and spike desynchronization. Inhibition is caused by propagation of the spike afterhyperpolarization through GJs. This triggers network desynchronization because heterogeneous coupling to surrounding cells causes spike-phase dispersion. Detailed network models predict that desynchronization is robust, local, and dependent on synaptic input properties. Our results show that GJ coupling can be inhibitory and either promote network synchronization or trigger rapid network desynchronization depending on the synaptic input.
Biologically detailed single neuron and network models are important for understanding how ion channels, synapses and anatomical connectivity underlie the complex electrical behavior of the brain. While neuronal simulators such as NEURON, GENESIS, MOOSE, NEST, and PSICS facilitate the development of these data-driven neuronal models, the specialized languages they employ are generally not interoperable, limiting model accessibility and preventing reuse of model components and cross-simulator validation. To overcome these problems we have used an Open Source software approach to develop NeuroML, a neuronal model description language based on XML (Extensible Markup Language). This enables these detailed models and their components to be defined in a standalone form, allowing them to be used across multiple simulators and archived in a standardized format. Here we describe the structure of NeuroML and demonstrate its scope by converting into NeuroML models of a number of different voltage- and ligand-gated conductances, models of electrical coupling, synaptic transmission and short-term plasticity, together with morphologically detailed models of individual neurons. We have also used these NeuroML-based components to develop an highly detailed cortical network model. NeuroML-based model descriptions were validated by demonstrating similar model behavior across five independently developed simulators. Although our results confirm that simulations run on different simulators converge, they reveal limits to model interoperability, by showing that for some models convergence only occurs at high levels of spatial and temporal discretisation, when the computational overhead is high. Our development of NeuroML as a common description language for biophysically detailed neuronal and network models enables interoperability across multiple simulation environments, thereby improving model transparency, accessibility and reuse in computational neuroscience.
Visual narratives, such as comics and animations, are becoming increasingly popular as a tool for science education and communication.Combining the benefits of visualization with powerful metaphors and character-driven narratives, comics have the potential to make scientific subjects more accessible and engaging for a wider audience. While many authors have experimented with this medium, empirical research on the effects of visual narratives in science communication remains scarce. This review summarizes the available evidence across disciplines, highlighting the cognitive mechanisms that may underlie the effects of visual narratives.
AbstractPublic engagement with science and technology; Science communication: theory and models; Visual communication
Data comics for data-driven storytelling are inspired by the visual language of comics and aim to communicate insights in data through visualizations. While comics are widely known, few examples of data comics exist and there has not been any structured analysis nor guidance for their creation. We introduce data-comic design-patterns, each describing a set of panels with a specific narrative purpose, that allow for rapid storyboarding of data comics while showcasing their expressive potential. Our patterns are derived from i) analyzing common patterns in infographics, datavideos, and existing data comics, ii) our experiences creating data comics for different scenarios. Our patterns demonstrate how data comics allow an author to combine the best of both worlds: spatial layout and overview from infographics as well as linearity and narration from videos and presentations.
In vivo, cortical pyramidal cells are bombarded by asynchronous synaptic input arising from ongoing network activity. However, little is known about how such ‘background’ synaptic input interacts with nonlinear dendritic mechanisms. We have modified an existing model of a layer 5 (L5) pyramidal cell to explore how dendritic integration in the apical dendritic tuft could be altered by the levels of network activity observed in vivo. Here we show that asynchronous background excitatory input increases neuronal gain and extends both temporal and spatial integration of stimulus-evoked synaptic input onto the dendritic tuft. Addition of fast and slow inhibitory synaptic conductances, with properties similar to those from dendritic targeting interneurons, that provided a ‘balanced’ background configuration, partially counteracted these effects, suggesting that inhibition can tune spatio-temporal integration in the tuft. Excitatory background input lowered the threshold for NMDA receptor-mediated dendritic spikes, extended their duration and increased the probability of additional regenerative events occurring in neighbouring branches. These effects were also observed in a passive model where all the non-synaptic voltage-gated conductances were removed. Our results show that glutamate-bound NMDA receptors arising from ongoing network activity can provide a powerful spatially distributed nonlinear dendritic conductance. This may enable L5 pyramidal cells to change their integrative properties as a function of local network activity, potentially allowing both clustered and spatially distributed synaptic inputs to be integrated over extended timescales.
Figure 1: Two stories were presented in the wild in both Infographic and Comic form, for an empirical observation study conducted with pedestrians, measuring reading time, interactions (i.e. pointing and talking) and opinions as evidence for engagement and enjoyment.
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