Why dont we hear/see individual neural firing events??

Kalman Rubinson rubinsnk at is2.nyu.edu
Mon Sep 23 23:44:21 EST 1996

Lee Kent Hempfling (lkh at mail.cei.net) wrote:
> It is a very common misconception that neurons only fire.

Assuming that you mean firing as an action potential, that is what they
commonly do as an output.

> What neurons
> do is accept a charge value, hold it until they accept a second charge
> and the result of the calculation is discharged from the neuron. It is
> this discharge that is observed as firing.

Nope.  They accept many inputs.  If the temporal and spatial summation of
inputs leads to a threshhold level, they will fire an AP.  After that,
they are refractory for an interval.  It is the refractory period
that limits the 'firing' frequency.

> There is no noise in that
> process. If there was, we would all be dealing with incorrect sensory
> perception. 

Sure there is: spontaneous transmitter release at the synapse.  Of
course, such events are unlikely to significantly influence the next
neuron's firing.

> It is not a binary function. > 

Depends on your definition.  After all, it either fires an AP or it


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