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Challenges in reproducibility, replicability, and comparability of computational models and tools for neuronal and glial networks, cells, and subcellular structures

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Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalFrontiers in Neuroinformatics
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Abstract

The possibility to replicate and reproduce published research results is one of the biggest challenges in all areas of science. In computational neuroscience, there are thousands of models available. However, it is rarely possible to reimplement the models based on the information in the original publication, let alone rerun the models just because the model implementations have not been made publicly available. We evaluate and discuss the comparability of a versatile choice of simulation tools: tools for biochemical reactions and spiking neuronal networks, and relatively new tools for growth in cell cultures. The replicability and reproducibility issues are considered for computational models that are equally diverse, including the models for intracellular signal transduction of neurons and glial cells, in addition to single glial cells, neuron-glia interactions, and selected examples of spiking neuronal networks. We also address the comparability of the simulation results with one another to comprehend if the studied models can be used to answer similar research questions. In addition to presenting the challenges in reproducibility and replicability of published results in computational neuroscience, we highlight the need for developing recommendations and good practices for publishing simulation tools and computational models. Model validation and flexible model description must be an integral part of the tool used to simulate and develop computational models. Constant improvement on experimental techniques and recording protocols leads to increasing knowledge about the biophysical mechanisms in neural systems. This poses new challenges for computational neuroscience: extended or completely new computational methods and models may be required. Careful evaluation and categorization of the existing models and tools provide a foundation for these future needs, for constructing multiscale models or extending the models to incorporate additional or more detailed biophysical mechanisms. Improving the quality of publications in computational neuroscience, enabling progressive building of advanced computational models and tools, can be achieved only through adopting publishing standards which underline replicability and reproducibility of research results.

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