NEURON is designed around the notion of continuous cable "sections" which are connected together to form any kind of branched cable and which are endowed with properties which vary continuously with position along the section. The design goal is to keep entirely separate the physical properties of the neuron from the numerical issue of size of spatial compartments.
User defined membrane properties are described by expressing models in terms of kinetic schemes and sets of simultaneous equations. Membrane voltage and states are computed efficiently by compiling these model descriptions and using an implicit integration method optimized for branched structures.
NEURON realizes a tremendous degree of flexibility by using an object oriented interpreter to setup the physical properties of the cables, define the appearance of the graphical interface, control the simulation, and plot the results. The default graphical interface is suitable for initial exploratory simulations, setting parameters, common control of voltage and current stimuli, and graphing variables as a function of time and position.
Abstract for 1995 Soc. of Neuroscience Meeting
NEURON is a nerve simulation system designed to solve problems Iinvolving complex cell morphology, cell membranes with ion-specific channels, and ion accumulation. At the 1993 Society meeting, we demonstrated a graphical interface version of NEURON. It employed "InterViews", an X-windows based interface builder, and thus ran only on unix machines - but could be accessed from DOS and Macintosh machines via X-window servers.
Several improvements since then enhance its ease of use and make it
readily available to a much wider group of users:
1) Porting NEURON to PCs running Microsoft Windows 3.1.
2) Placing a hypertext User's Manual on-line on the internet, accessible
by Mosaic and Netscape browsers.
3) Making NEURON a Mosaic "viewer" so that simulations can be run
from the User's Manual via hypertext links. Current examples in the
Manual range from simulations of (a) current and voltage clamps of
patches of membrane with a variety of mechanisms, (b) impulse
propagation in both uniform and non-uniform axons, and (c) temporal and
spatial integration of synaptic imputs to (d) Ca dynamics in nerve
terminals, These "digital "neurons" offer the facility for learning
neurophysiological function while also learning how to use NEURON.
4) Internet availability of NEURON (both unix and PC versions,
including instructions for downloading and installation) and the User's
Supported by NIH grant NS11613 and Yale Center for Theoretical and Applied Neuroscience.