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IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2015 Jul;62(7):1843-52. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2015.2405549. Epub 2015 Feb 19.

Conceptual Network Model From Sensory Neurons to Astrocytes of the Human Nervous System.


From a single-cell animal like paramecium to vertebrates like ape, the nervous system plays an important role in responding to the variations of the environment. Compared to animals, the nervous system in the human body possesses more intricate organization and utility. The nervous system anatomy has been understood progressively, yet the explanation at the cell level regarding complete information transmission is still lacking. Along the signal pathway toward the brain, an external stimulus first activates action potentials in the sensing neuron and these electric pulses transmit along the spinal nerve or cranial nerve to the neurons in the brain. Second, calcium elevation is triggered in the branch of astrocyte at the tripartite synapse. Third, the local calcium wave expands to the entire territory of the astrocyte. Finally, the calcium wave propagates to the neighboring astrocyte via gap junction channel. In our study, we integrate the existing mathematical model and biological experiments in each step of the signal transduction to establish a conceptual network model for the human nervous system. The network is composed of four layers and the communication protocols of each layer could be adapted to entities with different characterizations. We verify our simulation results against the available biological experiments and mathematical models and provide a test case of the integrated network. As the production of conscious episode in the human nervous system is still under intense research, our model serves as a useful tool to facilitate, complement and verify current and future study in human cognition.

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