Large-scale optimization of neuron arbors

Christopher Cherniak, Mark Changizi, and Du Won Kang
Phys. Rev. E 59, 6001 – Published 1 May 1999
PDFExport Citation


At the global as well as local scales, some of the geometry of types of neuron arbors—both dendrites and axons—appears to be self-organizing: Their morphogenesis behaves like flowing water, that is, fluid dynamically; waterflow in branching networks in turn acts like a tree composed of cords under tension, that is, vector mechanically. Branch diameters and angles and junction sites conform significantly to this model. The result is that such neuron tree samples globally minimize their total volume—rather than, for example, surface area or branch length. In addition, the arbors perform well at generating the cheapest topology interconnecting their terminals: their large-scale layouts are among the best of all such possible connecting patterns, approaching 5% of optimum. This model also applies comparably to arterial and river networks.

  • Received 21 July 1998


©1999 American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

Christopher Cherniak*, Mark Changizi, and Du Won Kang

  • Committee on History and Philosophy of Science, Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742

  • *Electronic address:
  • Electronic address:
  • Electronic address:

References (Subscription Required)

Click to Expand

Vol. 59, Iss. 5 — May 1999

Reuse & Permissions
Access Options
Physical Review E Scope Description to Include Biological Physics
January 14, 2016

The editors of Physical Review E are pleased to announce that the journal’s stated scope has been expanded to explicitly include the term “Biological Physics.”

Authorization Required




Sign up to receive regular email alerts from Physical Review E

Log In



Article Lookup

Paste a citation or DOI

Enter a citation