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Neural Computation

April 2010, Vol. 22, No. 4, Pages 949-968
(doi: 10.1162/neco.2009.01-09-945)
© 2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A Model of Indispensability of a Large Glial Layer in Cerebrovascular Circulation
Article PDF (630.14 KB)

We formulate the problem of oxygen delivery to neural tissue as a problem of association. Input to a pool of neurons in one brain area must be matched in space and time with metabolic inputs from the vascular network via the glial network. We thus have a model in which neural, glial, and vascular layers are connected bidirectionally, in that order. Connections between neuro-glial and glial-vascular stages are trained by an unsupervised learning mechanism such that input to the neural layer is sustained by the precisely patterned delivery of metabolic inputs from the vascular layer via the glial layer. Simulations show that the capacity of such a system to sustain patterns is weak when the glial layer is absent. Capacity is higher when a glial layer is present and increases with the layer size. The proposed formulation of neurovascular interactions raises many intriguing questions about the role of glial cells in cerebral circulation.