Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Marijn Martens (Donders series 229)

26 May 2016

Promotor: prof. dr. P. Tiesinga, copromotors: dr. D. Schubert,
dr. N. Nadif Kasri

Emerging brain circuits in silico and in vitro

Our brain transforms information about the environment into electrical pulses, so-called action potentials, the language of the brain. Action potentials play an important role in the formation of brain networks during early development, in particular for neural plasticity. Marijn Martens used computer models and neuronal cultures to study early brain development. His research shows how learning can be 'switched on' by a simple change in the relation between action potentials and the release of neurotransmitters, the chemical substances used by for interneuronal communication. Furthermore, his research shows that learning could lead to structured brain networks. The special structure of such networks simultaneously leads to sensitivity to external information a stability to internal noise, which avoids unnecessary use of energy by the brain. These insights into early brain development are necessary to increase our understanding of complex neurodevelopmental disorders.