(also: path-finding, axonal pathfinding, axon guidance) is an umbrella term that covers all the mechanisms used by biological neurons to effect growth of their axons toward a given synaptic destination (or set of destinations). Similar mechanisms are thought to effect the growth and development of dendrites
in developing brains.
Some examples of the kinds of mechanisms that are included within the "pathfinding" umbrella include: growth cone
s, various affinities and aversions to molecular substances, as well as the spatial and temporal patterns, and gradients in which concentrations of those substances may be configured. There are other mechanisms that fit under this umbrella term as well, such as adhesion molecules and mechanisms.
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pathfinding similarly refers to abstractions of the pathfinding mechanisms employed by biological systems. Obviously it only includes those that are currently implemented in Netlab. These include growth cones
, and receptor pads
, for example. Because it is an umbrella term, it can also refer to things like CI
s (Chemical Influences), when they are serving to aid in pathfinding. That is, CI
s may be considered part of pathfinding when they are acting as attractive, or repulsive agents for growth cones