Using neuroConstruct to develop and modify biologically detailed 3D neuronal network models in health and disease
In this chapter, we describe neuroConstruct, a new software tool for developing, modifying and analyzing neural network models with biologically realistic properties in 3D space (Gleeson et al, 2007). Network models are built and modified through a graphical user interface. The application then automatically writes code for existing simulators (NEURON and GENESIS) which carry out the numerical integration. This makes network modeling accessible to experimental and clinical researchers without programming skills. We focus on how neuroConstruct can be used to develop new 3D network models of brain function with anatomical, synaptic and cellular mechanisms with a high degree of biological realism. We illustrate how an existing network model of epilepsy implemented in neuroConstruct can be easily modified through the graphical user interface (GUI) and used as a tool for investigating the potential mechanisms underlying this condition. Lastly, we discuss how planned future developments of neuroConstruct will extend the types of brain mechanisms that can be simulated, allowing more realistic models of brain function in the future.