[Comp-neuro] Review announcement

jim bower bower at uthscsa.edu
Fri Jul 25 23:31:21 CEST 2008


One last plea for caution. No matter how convenient "noise" may be for abstract models, one can argue I think pretty convincingly that life itself differentiates itself from a-biological chemical evolution through its use of extreme degrees of structure and context specific organization to "beat" thermodynamics. 

As such anything that smells gaussian, disordered, something you can average over, or something that is completely generic rather than highly specific to the circumstances at hand (behavioral or computational) should raise concern. 

The long history of biology is that the closer you look, the more structure, not less structure you see.  And everytime I have heard it suggested otherwise, closer inspection has suggested that we simply weren't giving biology enough credit. 

One quick example, a number of years ago, in fact during the first summer of the first computational neuroscience course in woods hole, a well know investigator of aplesia neurons gave a general MBL talk in which he sought to identify every conductance in the neuron of interest. In addition to the big "important" ones he found several small ones, whose presence he chalked up to sloppyness in protein transcription. 

Given my predispositions, I suggested that he change the temperature of the bath as aplesia live in tide pools. The next summer he gave a talk on the remarkable resiliance of neuronal function under different ambient temperatures confered by the complex conductances present in the cell membrane.  

While convenient, many of these "noise" mechanisms strike me as being simply not sophisticated enough. And I will point out now for the last time, that the more sophisticated a coding system, the harder it is likely to be to distinguish signal from "noise". 

Jim Bower
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-----Original Message-----
From: "rod rinkus" <rinkus at comcast.net>

Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 00:33:59 
To: <minai_ali at yahoo.com>
Cc: <comp-neuro at neuroinf.org>
Subject: RE: [Comp-neuro] Review announcement


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