The Nervous Systems Of All Organisms Confront Perturbations Ranging From Genetic And Developmental Errors

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The nervous systems of all organisms confront perturbations ranging from genetic and developmental errors to changing environmental conditions. However, following such perturbations neurons return to their set point via homeostatic regulation. To understand how neurons come back to their set point one must first realize what is meant by ‘homeostatic regulation’. Definitions differ, but a common theme is that of a system returning to a ‘set-point’, ‘target value’ or ‘previous state’ following some perturbation (Turrigiano; 1999, Turrigiano & Nelson; 2004, Davis; 2006, O’Donnell & Nolan; 2011). Such a definition can have an overly restrictive interpretation: in the most extreme form it could be construed to mean that nothing really changes in homeostatic systems. This often results in concepts such as ‘allostasis’ (‘stability through change’) – a term necessitated by the mistaken view that homeostatic processes imply static systems. Some authors have attempted to solve the problem of finding an adequate yet simple conceptual model of neuronal homeostasis by restricting the range of phenomena that homeostasis applies to (Davis; 2006), or by embellishing a static theory with the notion of ‘customizable set points’ (Turrigiano; 2008). Homeostatic signaling systems act throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems to stabilize the active properties of nerve and muscle (Davis; 2006, Marder; 2011, Turrigiano; 2011). Evidence for this has accumulated by measuring how nerve

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