Predicting the Distribution of Serotonergic Axons: A Supercomputing Simulation of Reflected Fractional Brownian Motion in a 3D-Mouse Brain Model


The self-organization of the brain matrix of serotonergic axons (fibers) remains an unsolved problem in neuroscience. The regional densities of this matrix have major implications for neuroplasticity, tissue regeneration, and the understanding of mental disorders, but the trajectories of single fibers are strongly stochastic and require novel conceptual and analytical approaches. In a major extension to our previous studies, we used a supercomputing simulation to model 1000 serotonergic fibers as paths of superdiffusive fractional Brownian motion (FBM), a continuous-time stochastic process. The fibers produced long walks in a complex, threedimensional shape based on the mouse brain and reflected at the outer (pial) and inner (ventricular) boundaries. The resultant regional densities were compared to the actual fiber densities in the corresponding neuroanatomically-defined regions. The relative densities showed strong qualitative similarities in the forebrain and midbrain, demonstrating the predictive potential of stochastic modeling in this system. The current simulation does not respect tissue heterogeneities, but can be further improved with novel models of multifractional FBM. The study demonstrates that serotonergic fiber densities can be strongly influenced by the geometry of the brain, with implications for brain development, plasticity, and evolution.



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