For my final year project I created one of the first ever computational models of a learning neuron-astrocyte network.
Background: Contrary to popular belief, neurons are not the only cells in the brain which perform learning and cognitive functions. For decades, artificial intelligence researchers have made computational models of neural networks but failed to acknowledge the role of astrocytes. If you are interested in a more comprehensive background information on the topic please read my literature review.
Why?: While on placement in Spain, I was researching the role of astrocytes in Alzheimer’s disease. I was fascinated by the fact that their abundance and diversity is proportional to intelligence and yet their role in intelligence is largely overlooked. At the time I was also curious about artificial intelligence (AI) and was intrigued to see how AI researchers had modelled astrocytes. Suprisingly, few researchers had made computational models of astrocytes, and so my project began.
My work presents a novel model of neuron-astrocyte networks and challenges one of the pioneering neuron-astrocyte network models.