Functional Consequences of Model Complexity in Hybrid Neural-Microelectronic Systems
Sorensen, Michael Elliott
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Hybrid neural-microelectronic systems, systems composed of biological neural networks and neuronal models, have great potential for the treatment of neural injury and disease. The utility of such systems will be ultimately determined by the ability of the engineered component to correctly replicate the function of biological neural networks. These models can take the form of mechanistic models, which reproduce neural function by describing the physiologic mechanisms that produce neural activity, and empirical models, which reproduce neural function through more simplified mathematical expressions. We present our research into the role of model complexity in creating robust and flexible behaviors in hybrid systems. Beginning with a complex mechanistic model of a leech heartbeat interneuron, we create a series of three systematically reduced models that incorporate both mechanistic and empirical components. We then evaluate the robustness of these models to parameter variation, and assess the flexibility of the models activities. The modeling studies are validated by incorporating both mechanistic and semi-empirical models in hybrid systems with a living leech heartbeat interneuron. Our results indicate that model complexity serves to increase both the robustness of the system and the ability of the system to produce flexible outputs.