Enabling rapid iterative model design within the laboratory environment
Clayton, Thomas F.
This thesis presents a proof of concept study for the better integration of the electrophysiological and modelling aspects of neuroscience. Members of these two sub-disciplines collaborate regularly, but due to differing resource requirements, and largely incompatible spheres of knowledge, cooperation is often impeded by miscommunication and delays. To reduce the model design time, and provide a platform for more efficient experimental analysis, a rapid iterative model design method is proposed. The main achievement of this work is the development of a rapid model evaluation method based on parameter estimation, utilising a combination of evolutionary algorithms (EAs) and graphics processing unit (GPU) hardware acceleration. This method is the primary force behind the better integration of modelling and laboratorybased electrophysiology, as it provides a generic model evaluation method that does not require prior knowledge of model structure, or expertise in modelling, mathematics, or computer science. If combined with a suitable intuitive and user targeted graphical user interface, the ideas presented in this thesis could be developed into a suite of tools that would enable new forms of experimentation to be performed. The latter part of this thesis investigates the use of excitability-based models as the basis of an iterative design method. They were found to be computationally and structurally simple, easily extensible, and able to reproduce a wide range of neural behaviours whilst still faithfully representing underlying cellular mechanisms. A case study was performed to assess the iterative design process, through the implementation of an excitability-based model. The model was extended iteratively, using the rapid model evaluation method, to represent a vasopressin releasing neuron. Not only was the model implemented successfully, but it was able to suggest the existence of other more subtle cell mechanisms, in addition to highlighting potential failings in previous implementations of the class of neuron.