Thursday, June 26, 2014

Megascience efforts and the brain.

Grillner offers a commentary on the current megascience efforts (costing gazillions of dollars) to develop infrastructure for tools, modeling, or neuroinformatics. It seems a bit surprising that they are not instead focused directly on gaining fundamental new insights into brain function. We're putting the cart before the horse...the macro-efforts are not going to get us there if we haven't painstakingly worked out the steps of what goes on between ion channels, nerve cells, simple systems of nerve cells, and increasingly higher levels of integration.  He makes his simple point in a summary graphic which I pass on:

The Interface between the Cellular Level and Global Brain Function Is the Major Challenge for Current Neuroscience.

The two extreme levels of neuroscience that have evolved rapidly, cellular (left) and brain imaging (right). The challenge is to bridge these levels in order to be able to explain behavior in terms of cells and synapses. It emphasizes the fact that in order to have a solid underpinning of the circuits underlying a specific function, one needs to be able to bridge from gene through the different steps indicated below in the figure to, for instance, a cognitive or behavioral function.

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