Microconnectomics of primary motor cortex: a multiscale computer model

We will develop a multi-scale model of primary motor cortex (area M1) based on a rich experimental dataset obtained in ongoing studies. The model will range from the level of ion channels in dendrites, up to the level of the inputs from and outputs to other areas of cortex, a range of microns to centimeters, with a temporal range of milliseconds to 10 sec. We will evaluate dynamical interactions across scale, made more complicated by a structure that features long apical dendrites of Layer 5 pyramidal cells that reach across layers of cortex and thereby across scales. This feature produces complex structure-function relations: apical dendrites directly process inputs from different cortical layers for export from the local microcircuit (direct input/output). They also act within the scale hierarchy, forming a component of the local network which provides a parallel processing of inputs to produce outputs via the entire Layer 5 pyramidal cell ensemble. The model will help us better understand a variety of diseases, including autism and Parkinson’s disease. In addition, the model will assist us in understanding the codes of the brain, which will allow us to later develop more sophisticated prosthetic limbs for the wounded: prosthetics that not only move, but also feel.


September 2014 to May 2018

Funding source

NIH NIBIB (U01 award)

Principal Investigator(s)

William W. Lytton (SUNY Downstate)


Gordon M.G. Shepeherd (Northwestern University)


William W. Lytton (billl@neurosim.downstate.edu)