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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2011 Oct;21(5):679-84. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2011.05.015. Epub 2011 Jun 16.

Modeling developmental patterns of spontaneous activity.

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  • 1Cambridge Computational Biology Institute, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 0WA, UK.


Spontaneous activity is found in many regions of the developing nervous system; such activity is thought to be instructive for guiding developmental processes. In particular, the developing retina generates correlated patterns of activity known as retinal waves. We review the main theoretical models that have been developed to study the mechanisms for generation and propagation of retinal waves. Much of the progress in this field has been due to the close interaction between experimentalists and theorists in analyzing and modeling spontaneous activity. We conclude by describing spontaneous activity models in other systems and suggestions for future modeling work.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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