[Comp-neuro] puzzlement

Bill Lytton billl at neurosim.downstate.edu
Wed Aug 13 19:26:40 CEST 2008

>  as a physicist by education but working in neuroscience, I am really puzzled about the
>  approach to start from the single neuron to understand information processing.

I am puzzled by your puzzlement

There is great complexity in a neuron that directly effects its I/O
-- the internal quantum complexity of a neutral particle doesn't much effect its billiard-ball
like behavior; the complexity of H2O does start to effect its interactions which makes aqueous
solutions difficult to model and to reduce cleanly to an analytic form

the brain is often compared to a computer, and sometimes, as implicitly by Jim, to a modern
aircraft -- complexity arising from the connection of complex components.  Individual
neuron types differ in their complexity, perhaps lying somewhere between an op-amp (a granule
cell) and an 8086 CPU (2e4 transistors) -- a Purkinje cell

there are papers by a phys-type that lays this out in a relatively formal way
  Csete, ME and Doyle, JC, Science 295:1664-1669, 2002 
  Carlson, JM and Doyle, JC, PNAS    99:2538-2545, 2002
I recall that they also compare brains to airplanes


William W. Lytton, MD
Professor of Physiology, Pharmacology, Biomedical Engineering, Neurology
State University of NY, Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY
billl at neurosim.downstate.edu http://it.neurosim.downstate.edu/~billl

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