Astrocytes, a major type of glia, possess assorted structural and functional properties making them inseparable from their neighbouring neurons. However, most published computational models of whole-brain activity, if not all, remain focused on neurons while ignoring astrocytes. We herewith introduce a biophysical model built upon neural network mass and compartmental modelling techniques, where large-scale astrocytic and neuronal networks couple their activity through glutamatergic and GABAergic transmission systems. We formulate a network scheme where neural dynamics are constrained by a two-layered structural network interconnecting either astrocytic or neuronal populations, and we ask how astrocytic networks contribute to whole-brain activity and emerging functional connectivity patterns. By developing a biologically plausible simulation approach based on bifurcation and multilayer network theories, we demonstrate that astrocytic and neuronal networks engage in a dialogue over fast and slow fluctuations or over phase-based and amplitude-based network connectivity. Our study is a step forward for more thoroughly investigating the role of glia alongside neurons in health or disease conditions.

Educational Background


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