Selfish-brain Theory: Challenges in the Top-down Analysis of Metabolic Supply Chains

Langemann, D.

    The Selfish-brain theory has created the theoretical basis for the systemic analysis of the energy metabolism in terms of a supply chain. The energy in form of glucose equivalents is transported from the exterior environment into the brain where it is finally consumed as ATP in the neurons. The transport process is governed by the brain itself as regulatory authority. We discuss general supply chains and certain components to understand regulatory mechanisms in metabolic supply chains. Push and pull mechanisms are distinguished and discussed in detail. The dynamical systems describing supply chains are related to partial differential equations and they inherit their properties. Furthermore, certain components like side compartments are regarded which act as short-time store. Examples are glycogen in the glycolysis or the fat compartment in the individual metabolism. Similar supply chains and regulatory mechanisms can be identified at different levels. Due to the large amount of regulative substances and hormones involved in the regulation and the lack of quantitative knowledge, a bottom-up modelling fails and minimal models can provide a qualitative understanding. There are several observations and experimental results, from which certain properties of the supply chains can be deduced. A top-down analysis identifies crucial elements and allows a virtual pre-selection of experiments. Finally, we present hierarchically ordered regulatory loops for the allocation, the appetite and the exploration for the simulation of daily cyclic behaviour and its development on a medium-term time-scale. Metabolic diseases can be understood as disturbances or congestions in the supply chain.
Cite as: Langemann, D. (2007). Selfish-brain Theory: Challenges in the Top-down Analysis of Metabolic Supply Chains. In Proc. Tutorials, posters, panels and industrial contributions at the 26th International Conference on Conceptual Modeling - ER 2007 Auckland, New Zealand. CRPIT, 83. Grundy, J., Hartmann, S., Laender, A. H. F., Maciaszek, L. and Roddick, J. F., Eds. ACS. 39-49.
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