Barry L. Bentley is a Reader in Bioengineering, Head of the Bioengineering Research Group, and Deputy Director of the EUREKA Robotics Centre, in the Cardiff School of Technologies at Cardiff Metropolitan University. He is also a 2023-24 Fulbright Scholar in the NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Advanced Technologies for the Preservation of Biological Systems (ATP-Bio), at Harvard Medical School and Mass General Hospital. Barry received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Cambridge, where he worked at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology to map and analyse the neuromodulatory connectome of C. elegans. Barry has conducted research and consultancy work for numerous organisations including the University of Oxford, the European Space Agency, London Business School, and ARM Holdings...
In this talk summary, Barry Bentley, a bioengineering researcher at Cardiff Metropolitan University, discusses the importance of extrasynaptic interactions between neurons. He argues that these interactions, which have often been overlooked, are actually more important than previously thought, especially when considering whole brain emulation. Bentley presents findings from whole animal functional neural imaging in C. elegans, revealing that the functional correlation between neurons is not well correlated with synaptic connectivity. Only about 1% of cases where one neuron’s activity is correlated with another’s are connected by synapses, suggesting the presence of other mechanisms, such as extrasynaptic interactions. Molecular studies in C. elegans have also shown that the majority of receptors or neurotransmitters are not postsynaptic to cells that produce them. Bentley concludes that there is evidence suggesting that non-synaptic interactions play a significant role and advocates for raising awareness of this concept in future research and discussions.