Single neurons can detect sequences
ScienceDaily (2010-08-13) — Single neurons in the brain are surprisingly good at distinguishing different sequences of incoming information according to new research. The study shows that single neurons, and indeed even single dendrites, the tiny receiving elements of neurons, can very effectively distinguish between different temporal sequences of incoming information.
Full story here http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100812151632.htm
The novel finding here challenges the notion that it is only at the level of the network in which the phenomenon ( temporal/spatial coding ) where many neurons firing in turn drives specific responses in successive neurons (network nodes) along the signal path is observed. Instead, it has been demonstrated here, that the individual neuron too has the ability to discriminate and identify differences between input signals and give different responses (output) accordingly. This level of computational specificity apparently has never been demonstrated in a single neuron, but perhaps only shown in the networks or bundles of neurons in which synchronous firing, that is, concerted responses given a unique signal input, is the norm.
Implications ? Well… the concept of the simple neuron just got a whole lot more complex. A whole ‘notha level of computational complexity is there to be appreciated for the Blue brain guys. This is not an altogether surprising finding, though it hasn’t before been demonstrated this clearly.
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