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Activity-dependent neurite outgrowth and neural network development

Van Ooyen, A., and Van Pelt, J. (1994). In: Van Pelt, J., Corner, M. A., Uylings, H. B. M., and Lopes da Silva, F. H., eds. The Self-Organizing Brain: From Growth Cones to Functional Networks, Progress in Brain Research 102. Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 245-259.


A number of studies have demonstrated that electrical activity can directly affect neurite outgrowth. Electrical activity of the neuron reversibly arrests neurite outgrowth or even produces retraction. Similarly, depolarizing media and neurotransmitters affect neurite outgrowth of many cell types, with excitatory neurotransmitters inhibiting outgrowth and inhibitory ones stimulating outgrowth.

From these studies, the realization is growing that electrical activity and neurotransmitters are not only involved in information coding but also play an important role in shaping neuronal form and in defining the structure of the networks in which they operate. Using simulation models, we explore and elucidate the possible implications of activity-dependent outgrowth and locally interacting excitatory and inhibitory cells for neuronal morphology and network development.

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