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Open Discussion of Modeling and Computational Approaches to Cellular Signaling

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Re:Can computational modeling of neuronal processes help to understand cellular signalling?

22 March 2004

Upinder S. Bhalla

Dear Dr. Spiegel,

Several of the methods you mention have been used as broad abstractions. For example, Dennis Bray discussed the similarities between ANNs and signaling networks some ten years ago (1). Likewise, many signaling models that incorporate space do so using compartments, and in some cases these overlap directly with electrophysiological effects like calcium diffusion. However, the size-scales of signaling reaction-diffusion systems are often smaller than for compartmental models, and conversely, the time-scales of chemical events are often slower than for electrical ones.

I believe that Bayesian methods have been used to help determine likely interactions between signaling molecules when there are not enough direct data points. I don't recall seeing it applied though in an information encoding sense.

It is my view that detailed electrophysiological models will in due course converge with cellular signaling ones in many cases such as the synapse where there is a lot of cross-talk. The more abstract computational models will in my view remain as informative but not directly applicable.

1. D. Bray, Intracellular signalling as a parallel distributed process. J. Theor. Biol. 143, 215-231 (1990).

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