Self-organization in the developing nervous system: Theoretical models

Stephen J. Eglen, Julijana Gjorgjieva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Sensory maps in the nervous system often connect to each other in a topographic fashion. This is most strikingly seen in the visual system, where neighboring neurons in the retina project to neighboring neurons in the target structure, such as the superior colliculus. This article discusses the developmental mechanisms that are involved in the formation of topographic maps, with an emphasis on the role of theoretical models in helping us to understand these mechanisms. Recent experimental advances in studying the roles of guidance molecules and patterns of spontaneous activity mean that there are new challenges to be addressed by theoretical models. Key questions include understanding what instructional cues are present in the patterns of spontaneous activity, and how activity and guidance molecules might interact. Our discussion concludes by comparing development of visual maps with development of maps in the olfactory system, where the influence of neural activity seems to differ.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-185
Number of pages10
JournalHFSP Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


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