Limited synapse overproduction can speed development but sometimes with long-term energy and discrimination penalties
by Harang Ju, Costa M. Colbert, William B. LevyNeural circuit development requires that synapses be formed between appropriate neurons. In addition, for a hierarchical network, successful development involves a sequencing of developmental events. It has been suggested that one mechanism that helps speed up development of proper connections is an early overproduction of synapses. Using a computational model of synapse development, such as adaptive synaptogenesis, it is possible to study such overproduction and its role in speeding up development; it is also possible to study other outcomes of synapse overproduction that are seemingly new to the literature. With a fixed number of neurons, adaptive synaptogenesis can control the speed of synaptic development in two ways: by altering the rate constants of the adaptive processes or by altering the initial number of rapidly but non-selectively accrued synapses. Using either mechanism, the simulations reveal that synapse overproduction appears as an unavoidable concomitant of rapid adaptive synaptogenesis. However, the shortest development times, which always produces the greatest amount of synapse overproduction, reduce adult performance by three measures: energy-use, discrimination-error-rates, and proportional neuron allocation. Thus, the results here lead to the hypothesis that the observed speed of neural network development represents a particular inter-generational compromise, quick development benefits parental fecundity while slow development benefits offspring fecundity.
Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article
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