Synaptic Pruning in Development: A Computational Account

Gal Chechik, Isaac Meilijson, Eytan Ruppin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Research with humans and primates shows that the developmental course of the brain involves synaptic overgrowth followed by marked selective pruning. Previous explanations have suggested that this intriguing, seemingly wasteful phenomenon is utilized to remove "erroneous" synapses. We prove that this interpretation is wrong if synapses are Hebbian. Under limited metabolic energy resources restricting the amount and strength of synapses, we show that memory performance is maximized if synapses are first overgrown and then pruned following optimal "minimal-value" deletion. This optimal strategy leads to interesting insights concerning childhood amnesia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1759-1777
Number of pages19
JournalNeural Computation
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Oct 1998
Externally publishedYes


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