Concurrence of form and function in developing networks and its role in synaptic pruning

Ana Paula Millan, Joaquin Torres, Samuel Johnson, Joaquin Marro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
161 Downloads (Pure)


A fundamental question in neuroscience is how structure and function of neural systems are related. We study this interplay by combining a familiar auto-associative neural network with an evolving mechanism for the birth and death of synapses. A feedback loop then arises leading to two qualitatively different types of behaviour. In one, the network structure becomes heterogeneous and dissasortative, and the system displays good memory performance; furthermore, the structure is optimised for the particular memory patterns stored during the process. In the other, the structure remains homogeneous and incapable of pattern retrieval. These findings provide an inspiring picture of brain structure and dynamics that is compatible with experimental results on early brain development, and may help to explain synaptic pruning. Other evolving networks—such as those of protein interactions—might share the basic ingredients for this feedback loop and other questions, and indeed many of their structural features are as predicted by our model.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2236
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2018


  • Neuroscience
  • Complex systems
  • Networks
  • Synaptic pruning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Applied Mathematics


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