About this Research Topic
Recently, there has been a massive, worldwide effort in neuroscience research. Many large-scale initiatives focus on mapping and modeling large-scale neural networks in brains, aiming for instance, at systematically quantifying the cerebral cortex biological organization (at the level of ~1 mm3) and building biologically detailed digital reconstructions and simulations of the rodent brain. In parallel, there is a wealth of knowledge on the molecular mechanisms underlying single neurons‘ activity.
Whole-brain in vivo research is ultimately producing structural and functional insight into how large neuronal networks within the brain produce complex functions, how cognition emerges in animal models (zebrafish, murine models, macaque), and how different neuronal cell types function, at a molecular, biochemical, and biophysical level.
However, we are still missing a detailed understanding of the molecular mechanism leading individual neurons to form neural networks responsible for complex functions, as well as the cellular mechanisms via which small collections of neurons organize leading to emergent functional circuits. For instance, cell assemblies that form associative memory networks and function as the fundamental unit of memory are thought to rely on Hebbian synaptic strengthening to enable learning.
The goal of this Research Topic is to highlight recent discoveries shedding light on the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the formation and assembly of simple neuronal microcircuits and to test the emergent cellular phenomena in neuronal circuit models.
We aim to strengthen current research efforts looking into the biological mechanisms and computational modeling of neuronal microcircuits, ultimately connecting cellular/biochemical/electrophysiological studies on single neurons, to map whole brain structures and dynamics.
We welcome articles addressing the following broad themes:
1. Emergent molecular and cellular mechanisms of isolated neuronal microcircuits using any combination of in vitro reconstitutions, cell biological methods, biochemical and biophysical approaches, and electrophysiological techniques
2. Building and improving existing neuronal microcircuit models, to inform both the whole brain efforts and advance artificial neural networks (ANNs)
Specifically, reports of research tied to circuit/model testing are welcome, including articles on:
• Neuronal arcs/perceptrons – based on models of the McCulloch-Pitts and extended to circuits that perform simple Boolean operation computations
• Associative memory networks (synaptic loops) – based on models of Hebbian plasticity and extended to attractor neuronal networks
• Canonical cortical microcircuits in the visual, auditory, somatosensory, and motor areas
• Implementations of various validated models into AI algorithms
• Integrating engineered, in vitro neuronal circuits and networks into ANNs running on a computer: biology in the loop demonstrations
• Computational models of simple neuronal circuits and the emergent properties' quantification
Keywords: Cellular physiology, synaptic transmission, molecular mechanisms, cellular assemblies, modeling and simulation
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.