Statistical Analysis of Dendritic Branching in Hippocampal Neurons
Rebecka Jornsten, Department of Statistics, Rutgers University
Friday, April 22, 2005,12:00am-1:00pm,
The analysis of neuron morphology is geared toward increasing our understanding of dendritic branching and developing mechanisms. Neurological disorders such as autism and Rett's syndrome are associated with disrupted or altered branching patterns. Understanding which factors affect branching and how they do so is the first step toward developing drugs that can target these disruptions directly. We analyze branching patterns of neurons from a series of experiments via multivariate generalized linear mixed models and mixturemodels. The data consists of primary dendrites (stemming from the cell body) and their first level of branching into secondary dendrites. We jointly analyze which factors affect the number of primary dendrites, the proportions of primaries that branch, and how many secondaries result from a branching event. The outcome of these analyses enabled us to formulate novel biological hypotheses that are currently being validated in the lab.