How neurons exploit fractal geometry to optimize their network connectivity (2021)
Type of ContentJournal Article
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media LLC
- Science: Journal Articles 
We investigate the degree to which neurons are fractal, the origin of this fractality, and its impact on functionality. By analyzing three-dimensional images of rat neurons, we show the way their dendrites fork and weave through space is unexpectedly important for generating fractal-like behavior well-described by an ‘effective’ fractal dimension D. This discovery motivated us to create distorted neuron models by modifying the dendritic patterns, so generating neurons across wide ranges of D extending beyond their natural values. By charting the D-dependent variations in inter-neuron connectivity along with the associated costs, we propose that their D values reflect a network cooperation that optimizes these constraints. We discuss the implications for healthy and pathological neurons, and for connecting neurons to medical implants. Our automated approach also facilitates insights relating form and function, applicable to individual neurons and their networks, providing a crucial tool for addressing massive data collection projects (e.g. connectomes).
CitationSmith JH, Rowland C, Harland B, Moslehi S, Montgomery RD, Schobert K, Watterson WJ, Dalrymple-Alford J, Taylor RP (2021). How neurons exploit fractal geometry to optimize their network connectivity. Scientific Reports. 11(1). 2332-.
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ANZSRC Fields of Research32 - Biomedical and clinical sciences::3209 - Neurosciences::320904 - Computational neuroscience (incl. mathematical neuroscience and theoretical neuroscience)
49 - Mathematical sciences::4902 - Mathematical physics
Rights© The Author(s) 2021. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
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