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Front. Comput. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fncom.2018.00091

Constraints of metabolic energy on the number of synaptic connections of neurons and the density of neuronal networks

  • 1Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

Neuronal networks in the brain are the structural basis of human cognitive function, and the plasticity of neuronal networks is thought to be the principal neural mechanism underlying learning and memory. Dominated by the Hebbian theory, researchers have devoted extensive effort to studying the changes in synaptic connections between neurons. However, understanding the network topology of all synaptic connections has been neglected over the past decades. Furthermore, increasing studies indicate that synaptic activities are tightly coupled with metabolic energy, and metabolic energy is a unifying principle governing neuronal activities. Therefore, the network topology of all synaptic connections may also be governed by metabolic energy. Here, by implementing a computational model, we investigate the general synaptic organization rules for neurons and neuronal networks from the perspective of energy metabolism. We find that to maintain the energy balance of individual neurons in the proposed model, the number of synaptic connections is inversely proportional to the average of the synaptic weights. This strategy may be adopted by neurons to ensure that the ability of neurons to transmit signals matches their own energy metabolism. In addition, we find that the density of neuronal networks is also an important factor in the energy balance of neuronal networks. An abnormal increase or decrease in the network density could lead to failure of energy metabolism in the neuronal network. These rules may change our view of neuronal networks in the brain and have guiding significance for the design of neuronal network models.

Keywords: neuronal networks, network topology, synaptic organization rules, Metabolic energy, energy balance, computational model

Received: 14 Sep 2018; Accepted: 31 Oct 2018.

Edited by:

Matjaž Perc, University of Maribor, Slovenia

Reviewed by:

Jun Ma, Lanzhou University of Technology, China
Daqing Guo, Key Laboratory of Neurological Information, Ministry of Education, School of Medicine, University of Electronic Science and Technology, China  

Copyright: © 2018 Yuan, Huo, Zhao, Liu, Liu, Xing and Fang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Prof. Hong Huo, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China,
Prof. Tao Fang, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China,