Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience

2015 Edition
| Editors: Dieter Jaeger, Ranu Jung

Neural Population Models and Cortical Field Theory: Overview

  • Ingo Bojak
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6675-8_759

The term neural population models (NPMs) is used here as catchall for a wide range of approaches that have been variously called neural mass models, mean field models, neural field models, bulk models, and so forth. All NPMs attempt to describe the collective action of neural assemblies directly. Some NPMs treat the densely populated tissue of cortex as an excitable medium, leading to spatially continuous cortical field theories (CFTs). An indirect approach would start by modelling individual cells and then would explain the collective action of a group of cells by coupling many individual models together. In contrast, NPMs employ collective state variables, typically defined as averages over the group of cells, in order to describe the population activity directly in a singlemodel. The strength and the weakness of his approach are hence one and the same: simplification by bulk. Is this justified and indeed useful, or does it lead to oversimplification which fails to capture the...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Systems EngineeringUniversity of ReadingReadingUK