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Cortico-striato-nigro-thalamo-cortical Modeling for Understanding Motor Function and Neurodegenerative Disease

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Movement in the body is directly controlled by motor cortex, and also determined by multiple subcortical structures, such as thalamus and the basal ganglia (including striatum and dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra). Many lines of evidence have suggested the cortico-striato-nigro-thalamo-cortical ...

Movement in the body is directly controlled by motor cortex, and also determined by multiple subcortical structures, such as thalamus and the basal ganglia (including striatum and dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra). Many lines of evidence have suggested the cortico-striato-nigro-thalamo-cortical circuitry plays a major role in motor learning and control. This circuitry has also been investigated for its causal role in the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Neurodegenerative diseases are often associated with movement disorders and neuronal dysfunction in degenerated brain structures, such as the striatum in Huntington’s disease and dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta in Parkinson's disease. Degeneration fundamentally changes the dynamics of local neuronal circuits, and these changes then propagate through the structural connectome of whole brain circuitry, eventually altering global brain dynamics. However, our current understanding of these system dynamics in the cortico-striato-nigro-thalamo-cortical circuitry remains rudimentary. Hence, theoretical studies about critical system variables and computational principles of this circuitry, constrained by recordings throughout, will shed new light on causes of motor dysfunction and neurodegenerative diseases.

This Research Topic of Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience aims to bring together recent advances in theoretical modeling of cortico-striato-nigro-thalamo-cortical network and experimental observations. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, local brain circuit modeling, the functional role of neuronal plasticity in the local and global circuit, global circuit interactions and information exchange, new models validated by experimental observations, and dynamic disease risk analysis through perturbation studies.


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