The role of amyloid beta (Aβ) in brain function and in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) remains elusive. Recent publications reported that an increase in Aβ concentration perturbs pre-synaptic release in hippocampal neurons. In particular, it was shown in vitro that Aβ is an endogenous regulator of synaptic transmission at the CA3-CA1 synapse, enhancing its release probability. How this synaptic modulator influences neuronal output during physiological stimulation patterns, such as those elicited in vivo, is still unknown. Using a realistic model of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons, we first implemented this Aβ-induced enhancement of release probability and validated the model by reproducing the experimental findings. We then demonstrated that this synaptic modification can significantly alter synaptic integration properties in a wide range of physiologically relevant input frequencies (from 5 to 200 Hz). Finally, we used natural input patterns, obtained from CA3 pyramidal neurons in vivo during free exploration of rats in an open field, to investigate the effects of enhanced Aβ on synaptic release under physiological conditions. The model shows that the CA1 neuronal response to these natural patterns is altered in the increased-Aβ condition, especially for frequencies in the theta and gamma ranges. These results suggest that the perturbation of release probability induced by increased Aβ can significantly alter the spike probability of CA1 pyramidal neurons and thus contribute to abnormal hippocampal function during AD.
amyloid-beta; hippocampus; computational modeling; release probability; neuronal output
The work introduces a linear neural population model that allows to derive analytically the power spectrum subjected to the concentration of the anesthetic propofol. The analytical study of the power spectrum of the systems activity gives conditions on how the frequency of maximum power in experimental electroencephalographic (EEG) changes dependent on the propofol concentration. In this context, we explain the anesthetic-induced power increase in neural activity by an oscillatory instability and derive conditions under which the power peak shifts to larger frequencies as observed experimentally in EEG. Moreover the work predicts that the power increase only occurs while the frequency of maximum power increases. Numerically simulations of the systems activity complement the analytical results.
general anesthesia; propofol; neural fields; power spectrum; EEG
Hippocampal sharp wave-ripple complexes (SWRs) involve the synchronous discharge of thousands of cells throughout the CA3-CA1-subiculum-entorhinal cortex axis. Their strong transient output affects cortical targets, rendering SWRs a possible means for memory transfer from the hippocampus to the neocortex for long-term storage. Neurophysiological observations of hippocampal activity modulation by the cortical slow oscillation (SO) during deep sleep and anesthesia, and correlations between ripples and UP states, support the role of SWRs in memory consolidation through a cortico-hippocampal feedback loop. We couple a cortical network exhibiting SO with a hippocampal CA3-CA1 computational network model exhibiting SWRs, in order to model such cortico-hippocampal correlations and uncover important parameters and coupling mechanisms controlling them. The cortical oscillatory output entrains the CA3 network via connections representing the mossy fiber input, and the CA1 network via the temporoammonic pathway (TA). The spiking activity in CA3 and CA1 is shown to depend on the excitation-to-inhibition ratio, induced by combining the two hippocampal inputs, with mossy fiber input controlling the UP-state correlation of CA3 population bursts and corresponding SWRs, whereas the temporoammonic input affects the overall CA1 spiking activity. Ripple characteristics and pyramidal spiking participation to SWRs are shaped by the strength of the Schaffer collateral drive. A set of in vivo recordings from the rat hippocampus confirms a model-predicted segregation of pyramidal cells into subgroups according to the SO state where they preferentially fire and their response to SWRs. These groups can potentially play distinct functional roles in the replay of spike sequences.
hippocampus; slow oscillation; sharp waves; ripples; mossy fibers; temporoammonic pathway; correlations
Although intracerebral field potential oscillations are commonly used to study information processing during cognition and behavior, the cellular and network processes underlying such events remain unclear. The limited spatial resolution of standard single-point recordings does not clarify whether field oscillations reflect the activity of one or many afferent presynaptic populations. However, multi-site recording devices now provide high-resolution spatial profiles of local field potentials (LFPs) and when coupled to modern mathematical analyses that discriminate signals with distinct but overlapping spatial distributions, they open the door to better understand these potentials. Here we review recent insights that help disentangle certain pathway-specific activities. Accordingly, some oscillatory patterns can now be viewed as a periodic succession of synchronous synaptic currents that reflect the time envelope of spiking activity in given presynaptic populations. These analyses modify our concept of brain rhythms as abstract entities, molding them into mechanistic representations of network activity and allowing us to work in the time domain, reducing the loss of information inherent to data-chopping frequency treatment.
local field potentials; gamma oscillations; spatial discrimination; independent component analysis; spontaneous activity
We investigate the dynamical properties of an associative memory network consisting of stochastic neurons and dynamic synapses that show short-term depression and facilitation. In the stochastic neuron model used in this study, the efficacy of the synaptic transmission changes according to the short-term depression or facilitation mechanism. We derive a macroscopic mean field model that captures the overall dynamical properties of the stochastic model. We analyze the stability and bifurcation structure of the mean field model, and show the dependence of the memory retrieval performance on the noise intensity and parameters that determine the properties of the dynamic synapses, i.e., time constants for depressing and facilitating processes. The associative memory network exhibits a variety of dynamical states, including the memory and pseudo-memory states, as well as oscillatory states among memory patterns. This study provides comprehensive insight into the dynamical properties of the associative memory network with dynamic synapses.
dynamic synapse; short-term plasticity; neural network; associative memory network; mean field model; bifurcation analysis
We do not claim that the brain is completely deterministic, and we agree that noise may be beneficial in some cases. But we suggest that neuronal variability may be often overestimated, due to uncontrolled internal variables, and/or the use of inappropriate reference times. These ideas are not new, but should be re-examined in the light of recent experimental findings: trial-to-trial variability is often correlated across neurons, across trials, greater for higher-order neurons, and reduced by attention, suggesting that “intrinsic” sources of noise can only account for a minimal part of it. While it is obviously difficult to control for all internal variables, the problem of reference time can be largely avoided by recording multiple neurons at the same time, and looking at statistical structures in relative latencies. These relative latencies have another major advantage: they are insensitive to the variability that is shared across neurons, which is often a significant part of the total variability. Thus, we suggest that signal-to-noise ratios in the brain may be much higher than usually thought, leading to reactive systems, economic in terms of number of neurons, and energy efficient.
neural variability; signal-to-noise ratio; reliability; redundancy; neural coding
This study describes a spiking model that self-organizes for stable formation and maintenance of orientation and ocular dominance maps in the visual cortex (V1). This self-organization process simulates three development phases: an early experience-independent phase, a late experience-independent phase and a subsequent refinement phase during which experience acts to shape the map properties. The ocular dominance maps that emerge accommodate the two sets of monocular inputs that arise from the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) to layer 4 of V1. The orientation selectivity maps that emerge feature well-developed iso-orientation domains and fractures. During the last two phases of development the orientation preferences at some locations appear to rotate continuously through ±180° along circular paths and referred to as pinwheel-like patterns but without any corresponding point discontinuities in the orientation gradient maps. The formation of these functional maps is driven by balanced excitatory and inhibitory currents that are established via synaptic plasticity based on spike timing for both excitatory and inhibitory synapses. The stability and maintenance of the formed maps with continuous synaptic plasticity is enabled by homeostasis caused by inhibitory plasticity. However, a prolonged exposure to repeated stimuli does alter the formed maps over time due to plasticity. The results from this study suggest that continuous synaptic plasticity in both excitatory neurons and interneurons could play a critical role in the formation, stability, and maintenance of functional maps in the cortex.
spiking networks; STDP; learning; functional maps; orientation selectivity; ocular dominance; stability
Neural mass signals from in-vivo recordings often show oscillations with frequencies ranging from <1 to 100 Hz. Fast rhythmic activity in the beta and gamma range can be generated by network-based mechanisms such as recurrent synaptic excitation-inhibition loops. Slower oscillations might instead depend on neuronal adaptation currents whose timescales range from tens of milliseconds to seconds. Here we investigate how the dynamics of such adaptation currents contribute to spike rate oscillations and resonance properties in recurrent networks of excitatory and inhibitory neurons. Based on a network of sparsely coupled spiking model neurons with two types of adaptation current and conductance-based synapses with heterogeneous strengths and delays we use a mean-field approach to analyze oscillatory network activity. For constant external input, we find that spike-triggered adaptation currents provide a mechanism to generate slow oscillations over a wide range of adaptation timescales as long as recurrent synaptic excitation is sufficiently strong. Faster rhythms occur when recurrent inhibition is slower than excitation and oscillation frequency increases with the strength of inhibition. Adaptation facilitates such network-based oscillations for fast synaptic inhibition and leads to decreased frequencies. For oscillatory external input, adaptation currents amplify a narrow band of frequencies and cause phase advances for low frequencies in addition to phase delays at higher frequencies. Our results therefore identify the different key roles of neuronal adaptation dynamics for rhythmogenesis and selective signal propagation in recurrent networks.
spike frequency adaptation; adaptation; oscillations; rate models; network dynamics; Fokker–Planck; mean-field; recurrent network
In intermittent control, instead of continuously calculating the control signal, the controller occasionally changes this signal at certain sparse points in time. The control law may include feedback, adaptation, optimization, or any other control strategies. When, where, and how does the brain employ intermittency as it controls movement? These are open questions in motor neuroscience. Evidence for intermittency in human motor control has been repeatedly observed in the neural control of movement literature. Moreover, some researchers have provided theoretical models to address intermittency. Even so, the vast majority of current models, and I would dare to say the dogma in most of the current motor neuroscience literature involves continuous control. In this paper, I focus on an area in which intermittent control has not yet been thoroughly considered, the structure of muscle synergies. A synergy in the muscle space is a group of muscles activated together by a single neural command. Under the assumption that the motor control is intermittent, I present the minimum transition hypothesis (MTH) and its predictions with regards to the structure of muscle synergies. The MTH asserts that the purpose of synergies is to minimize the effort of the higher level in the hierarchy by minimizing the number of transitions in an intermittent control signal. The implications of the MTH are not only for the structure of the muscle synergies but also to the intermittent and hierarchical nature of the motor system, with various predictions as to the process of skill learning, and important implications to the design of brain machine interfaces and human robot interaction.
muscle synergies; motor control; intermittent control; spinal cord; blind source separation
A long standing hypothesis in the neuroscience community is that the central nervous system (CNS) generates the muscle activities to accomplish movements by combining a relatively small number of stereotyped patterns of muscle activations, often referred to as “muscle synergies.” Different definitions of synergies have been given in the literature. The most well-known are those of synchronous, time-varying and temporal muscle synergies. Each one of them is based on a different mathematical model used to factor some EMG array recordings collected during the execution of variety of motor tasks into a well-determined spatial, temporal or spatio-temporal organization. This plurality of definitions and their separate application to complex tasks have so far complicated the comparison and interpretation of the results obtained across studies, and it has always remained unclear why and when one synergistic decomposition should be preferred to another one. By using well-understood motor tasks such as elbow flexions and extensions, we aimed in this study to clarify better what are the motor features characterized by each kind of decomposition and to assess whether, when and why one of them should be preferred to the others. We found that three temporal synergies, each one of them accounting for specific temporal phases of the movements could account for the majority of the data variation. Similar performances could be achieved by two synchronous synergies, encoding the agonist-antagonist nature of the two muscles considered, and by two time-varying muscle synergies, encoding each one a task-related feature of the elbow movements, specifically their direction. Our findings support the notion that each EMG decomposition provides a set of well-interpretable muscle synergies, identifying reduction of dimensionality in different aspects of the movements. Taken together, our findings suggest that all decompositions are not equivalent and may imply different neurophysiological substrates to be implemented.
muscle synergies; non-negative matrix factorization; EMG; elbow rotations; dimensionality reduction; triphasic pattern
Muscle synergies, i.e., invariant coordinated activations of groups of muscles, have been proposed as building blocks that the central nervous system (CNS) uses to construct the patterns of muscle activity utilized for executing movements. Several efficient dimensionality reduction algorithms that extract putative synergies from electromyographic (EMG) signals have been developed. Typically, the quality of synergy decompositions is assessed by computing the Variance Accounted For (VAF). Yet, little is known about the extent to which the combination of those synergies encodes task-discriminating variations of muscle activity in individual trials. To address this question, here we conceive and develop a novel computational framework to evaluate muscle synergy decompositions in task space. Unlike previous methods considering the total variance of muscle patterns (VAF based metrics), our approach focuses on variance discriminating execution of different tasks. The procedure is based on single-trial task decoding from muscle synergy activation features. The task decoding based metric evaluates quantitatively the mapping between synergy recruitment and task identification and automatically determines the minimal number of synergies that captures all the task-discriminating variability in the synergy activations. In this paper, we first validate the method on plausibly simulated EMG datasets. We then show that it can be applied to different types of muscle synergy decomposition and illustrate its applicability to real data by using it for the analysis of EMG recordings during an arm pointing task. We find that time-varying and synchronous synergies with similar number of parameters are equally efficient in task decoding, suggesting that in this experimental paradigm they are equally valid representations of muscle synergies. Overall, these findings stress the effectiveness of the decoding metric in systematically assessing muscle synergy decompositions in task space.
muscle synergies; reaching; arm movement; task decoding; single-trial analysis
Recently there has been a growing interest in the modular organization of leg movements, in particular those related to locomotion. One of the basic modules involves the flexion of the leg during swing and it was shown that this module is already present in neonates (Dominici et al., 2011). In this paper, we question how these finding build upon the original work by Sherrington, who proposed that the flexor reflex is the basic building block of flexion during swing phase. Similarly, the relation between the flexor reflex and the withdrawal reflex modules of Schouenborg and Weng (1994) will be discussed. It will be argued that there is large overlap between these notions on modules and the older concepts of reflexes. In addition, it will be shown that there is a great flexibility in the expression of some of these modules during gait, thereby allowing for a phase-dependent modulation of the appropriate responses. In particular, the end of the stance phase is a period when the flexor synergy is facilitated. It is proposed that this is linked to the activation of circuitry that is responsible for the generation of locomotor patterns (CPG, “central pattern generator”). More specifically, it is suggested that the responses in that period relate to the activation of a flexor burst generator. The latter structure forms the core of a new asymmetric model of the CPG. This activation is controlled by afferent input (facilitation by a broad range of afferents, suppression by load afferent input). Meanwhile, many of these physiologic features have found their way in the control of very flexible walking bipedal robots.
flexion reflex; local sign; reflex modules; synergy; central pattern generator; gait; forward model
Dopamine neurons of the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) are uniquely sensitive to degeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD) and its models. Although a variety of molecular characteristics have been proposed to underlie this sensitivity, one possible contributory factor is their massive, unmyelinated axonal arbor that is orders of magnitude larger than other neuronal types. We suggest that this puts them under such a high energy demand that any stressor that perturbs energy production leads to energy demand exceeding supply and subsequent cell death. One prediction of this hypothesis is that those dopamine neurons that are selectively vulnerable in PD will have a higher energy cost than those that are less vulnerable. We show here, through the use of a biology-based computational model of the axons of individual dopamine neurons, that the energy cost of axon potential propagation and recovery of the membrane potential increases with the size and complexity of the axonal arbor according to a power law. Thus SNc dopamine neurons, particularly in humans, whose axons we estimate to give rise to more than 1 million synapses and have a total length exceeding 4 m, are at a distinct disadvantage with respect to energy balance which may be a factor in their selective vulnerability in PD.
dopamine; energy metabolism; neurodegeneration; Parkinson's disease; axons; unmyelinated; nigrostriatal pathway
A key objective in systems and cognitive neuroscience is to establish associations between behavioral measures and concurrent neuronal activity. Single-trial analysis has been proposed as a novel method for characterizing such correlates by first extracting neural components that maximally discriminate trials on a categorical variable, (e.g., hard vs. easy, correct vs. incorrect etc.), and then correlate those components to a continues dependent variable of interest, e.g., reaction time, difficulty Index, etc. However, often times in experiment design it is difficult to either define meaningful categorical variables, or to record enough trials for the method to extract the discriminant components. Experiments designed for the study of the effects of stimulus presentation modality in working memory provide such a scenario, as will be exemplified. In this paper, we proposed a new approach to single-trial analysis in which we directly extract neural activity that maximally correlates to single-trial manual response times; eliminating the need to define an arbitrary categorical variable. We demonstrate our method on real electroencephalography (EEG) data recordings from the study of stimulus presentation modality effect (SPME).
EEG; single-trial analysis; neuroimaging; correlated components; machine learning
We describe simulations of large-scale networks of excitatory and inhibitory spiking neurons that can generate dynamically stable winner-take-all (WTA) behavior. The network connectivity is a variant of center-surround architecture that we call center-annular-surround (CAS). In this architecture each neuron is excited by nearby neighbors and inhibited by more distant neighbors in an annular-surround region. The neural units of these networks simulate conductance-based spiking neurons that interact via mechanisms susceptible to both short-term synaptic plasticity and STDP. We show that such CAS networks display robust WTA behavior unlike the center-surround networks and other control architectures that we have studied. We find that a large-scale network of spiking neurons with separate populations of excitatory and inhibitory neurons can give rise to smooth maps of sensory input. In addition, we show that a humanoid brain-based-device (BBD) under the control of a spiking WTA neural network can learn to reach to target positions in its visual field, thus demonstrating the acquisition of sensorimotor coordination.
brain-based computational model; spiking neuronal networks; winner-take-all; motor control and learning/plasticity; spike-timing-dependent plasticity; sensorimotor control; large-scale spiking neural networks; neurorobotics
This work models the progression of beta-amyloid pathology according to Small’s synaptic scaling theory in an updated version of Ruppin and Reggia’s associative neural network model of Alzheimer’s disease, leading to a self-reinforcing cascade of damage. Using an information theoretic approach, it is shown that the simulated beta-amyloid pathology initially selectively targets neurons with low informational contribution to the overall performance of the network, but that it targets neurons with increasingly higher significance to the network as the disease progresses. The results additionally provide a possible explanation for the apparent low correlation between amyloid plaque density and cognitive decline in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
synaptic scaling; information; amyloid; computational model; associative memory; Alzheimer’s disease
A selected-papers (SP) network is a network in which researchers who read, write, and review articles subscribe to each other based on common interests. Instead of reviewing a manuscript in secret for the Editor of a journal, each reviewer simply publishes his review (typically of a paper he wishes to recommend) to his SP network subscribers. Once the SP network reviewers complete their review decisions, the authors can invite any journal editor they want to consider these reviews and initial audience size, and make a publication decision. Since all impact assessment, reviews, and revisions are complete, this decision process should be short. I show how the SP network can provide a new way of measuring impact, catalyze the emergence of new subfields, and accelerate discovery in existing fields, by providing each reader a fine-grained filter for high-impact. I present a three phase plan for building a basic SP network, and making it an effective peer review platform that can be used by journals, conferences, users of repositories such as arXiv, and users of search engines such as PubMed. I show how the SP network can greatly improve review and dissemination of research articles in areas that are not well-supported by existing journals. Finally, I illustrate how the SP network concept can work well with existing publication services such as journals, conferences, arXiv, PubMed, and online citation management sites.
open evaluation; peer review; scientometrics; journal; publishing; interdisciplinary research
On their long lateral dendrites, mitral cells of the olfactory bulb form dendrodendritic synapses with large populations of granule cell interneurons. The mitral-granule cell microcircuit operating through these reciprocal synapses has been implicated in inducing synchrony between mitral cells. However, the specific mechanisms of mitral cell synchrony operating through this microcircuit are largely unknown and are complicated by the finding that distal inhibition on the lateral dendrites does not modulate mitral cell spikes. In order to gain insight into how this circuit synchronizes mitral cells within its spatial constraints, we built on a reduced circuit model of biophysically realistic multi-compartment mitral and granule cells to explore systematically the roles of dendrodendritic synapse location and mitral cell separation on synchrony. The simulations showed that mitral cells can synchronize when separated at arbitrary distances through a shared set of granule cells, but synchrony is optimally attained when shared granule cells form two balanced subsets, each subset clustered near to a soma of the mitral cell pairs. Another constraint for synchrony is that the input magnitude must be balanced. When adjusting the input magnitude driving a particular mitral cell relative to another, the mitral-granule cell circuit served to normalize spike rates of the mitral cells while inducing a phase shift or delay in the more weakly driven cell. This shift in phase is absent when the granule cells are removed from the circuit. Our results indicate that the specific distribution of dendrodendritic synaptic clusters is critical for optimal synchronization of mitral cell spikes in response to their odor input.
olfaction; synchrony; mitral cells; dendritic processing; backpropagation
Attention is a complex neurobiological process that involves rapidly and flexibly balancing sensory input and goal-directed predictions in response to environmental changes. The cholinergic and noradrenergic systems, which have been proposed to respond to expected and unexpected environmental uncertainty, respectively, play an important role in attention by differentially modulating activity in a multitude of cortical targets. Here we develop a model of an attention task that involves expected and unexpected uncertainty. The cholinergic and noradrenergic systems track this uncertainty and, in turn, influence cortical processing in five different, experimentally verified ways: (1) nicotinic enhancement of thalamocortical input, (2) muscarinic regulation of corticocortical feedback, (3) noradrenergic mediation of a network reset, (4) locus coeruleus (LC) activation of the basal forebrain (BF), and (5) cholinergic and noradrenergic balance between sensory input and frontal cortex predictions. Our results shed light on how the noradrenergic and cholinergic systems interact with each other and a distributed set of neural areas, and how this could lead to behavioral adaptation in the face of uncertainty.
neuromodulation; cholinergic; noradrenergic; uncertainty; simulation
The nucleus laminaris of the barn owl auditory system is quite impressive, since its underlying time estimation is much better than the processing speed of the involved neurons. Since precise localization is also very important in many technical applications, this paper explores to what extent the main principles of the nucleus laminaris can be implemented in digital hardware. The first prototypical implementation yields a time resolution of about 20 ps, even though the chosen standard, low-cost device is clocked at only 85 MHz, which leads to an internal duty cycle of approximately 12 ns. In addition, this paper also explores the utility of an advanced sampling scheme, known as unfolding-in-time. It turns out that with this sampling method, the prototype can easily process input signals of up to 300 MHz, which is almost four times higher than the sampling rate.
nucleus laminaris; barn owl; high resolution time measurement; localization; FPGA
In recent experiments, synaptically isolated neurons from rat cortical culture, were stimulated with periodic extracellular fixed-amplitude current pulses for extended durations of days. The neuron’s response depended on its own history, as well as on the history of the input, and was classified into several modes. Interestingly, in one of the modes the neuron behaved intermittently, exhibiting irregular firing patterns changing in a complex and variable manner over the entire range of experimental timescales, from seconds to days. With the aim of developing a minimal biophysical explanation for these results, we propose a general scheme, that, given a few assumptions (mainly, a timescale separation in kinetics) closely describes the response of deterministic conductance-based neuron models under pulse stimulation, using a discrete time piecewise linear mapping, which is amenable to detailed mathematical analysis. Using this method we reproduce the basic modes exhibited by the neuron experimentally, as well as the mean response in each mode. Specifically, we derive precise closed-form input-output expressions for the transient timescale and firing rates, which are expressed in terms of experimentally measurable variables, and conform with the experimental results. However, the mathematical analysis shows that the resulting firing patterns in these deterministic models are always regular and repeatable (i.e., no chaos), in contrast to the irregular and variable behavior displayed by the neuron in certain regimes. This fact, and the sensitive near-threshold dynamics of the model, indicate that intrinsic ion channel noise has a significant impact on the neuronal response, and may help reproduce the experimentally observed variability, as we also demonstrate numerically. In a companion paper, we extend our analysis to stochastic conductance-based models, and show how these can be used to reproduce the details of the observed irregular and variable neuronal response.
neuron; pulse stimulation; slow inactivation; noise; discrete maps; adaptation; ion channels; chaos
Open peer review has been proposed for a number of reasons, in particular, for increasing the transparency of the article selection process for a journal, and for obtaining a broader basis for feedback to the authors and for the acceptance decision. The review discussion may also in itself have a value for the research community. These goals rely on the existence of a lively review discussion, but several experiments with open-process peer review in recent years have encountered the problem of faltering review discussions. The present article addresses the question of how lively review discussion may be fostered by relating the experience of the journal Electronic Transactions on Artificial Intelligence (ETAI) which was an early experiment with open peer review. Factors influencing the discussion activity are identified. It is observed that it is more difficult to obtain lively discussion when the number of contributed articles increases, which implies difficulties for scaling up the open peer review model. Suggestions are made for how this difficulty may be overcome.
open peer review; community peer review; two-stage peer review; live discussion
Recent reports have suggested that many published results are unreliable. To increase the reliability and accuracy of published papers, multiple changes have been proposed, such as changes in statistical methods. We support such reforms. However, we believe that the incentive structure of scientific publishing must change for such reforms to be successful. Under the current system, the quality of individual scientists is judged on the basis of their number of publications and citations, with journals similarly judged via numbers of citations. Neither of these measures takes into account the replicability of the published findings, as false or controversial results are often particularly widely cited. We propose tracking replications as a means of post-publication evaluation, both to help researchers identify reliable findings and to incentivize the publication of reliable results. Tracking replications requires a database linking published studies that replicate one another. As any such database is limited by the number of replication attempts published, we propose establishing an open-access journal dedicated to publishing replication attempts. Data quality of both the database and the affiliated journal would be ensured through a combination of crowd-sourcing and peer review. As reports in the database are aggregated, ultimately it will be possible to calculate replicability scores, which may be used alongside citation counts to evaluate the quality of work published in individual journals. In this paper, we lay out a detailed description of how this system could be implemented, including mechanisms for compiling the information, ensuring data quality, and incentivizing the research community to participate.
replication; replicability; post-publication evaluation; open evaluation
The current publishing system with its merits and pitfalls is a mending topic for debate among scientists of various disciplines. Editors and reviewers alike, both face difficult decisions about the judgment of new scientific findings. Increasing interdisciplinary themes and rapidly changing dynamics in method development of each field make it difficult to be an “expert” with regard to all issues of a certain paper. Although unintended, it is likely that misunderstandings, human biases, and even outright mistakes can play an unfortunate role in final verdicts. We propose a new community-driven publication process that is based on network statistics to make the review, publication, and scientific evaluation process more transparent.
network-based statistics; publishing system; scientific evaluation; peer review
Equipped with its 302-cell nervous system, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans adapts its locomotion in different environments, exhibiting so-called swimming in liquids and crawling on dense gels. Recent experiments have demonstrated that the worm displays the full range of intermediate behaviors when placed in intermediate environments. The continuous nature of this transition strongly suggests that these behaviors all stem from modulation of a single underlying mechanism. We present a model of C. elegans forward locomotion that includes a neuromuscular control system that relies on a sensory feedback mechanism to generate undulations and is integrated with a physical model of the body and environment. We find that the model reproduces the entire swim-crawl transition, as well as locomotion in complex and heterogeneous environments. This is achieved with no modulatory mechanism, except via the proprioceptive response to the physical environment. Manipulations of the model are used to dissect the proposed pattern generation mechanism and its modulation. The model suggests a possible role for GABAergic D-class neurons in forward locomotion and makes a number of experimental predictions, in particular with respect to non-linearities in the model and to symmetry breaking between the neuromuscular systems on the ventral and dorsal sides of the body.
invertebrate; locomotion; motor control; neuromechanical model; proprioception