The mitochondrion as a flip-flop memory element in neurons

Andrew Gyles syzygium at alphalink.com.au
Mon Dec 18 16:12:00 EST 2000


In article <1eltvig.1jzyjdf10kez7kN%harry at dherwin.org>,
  harry at dherwin.org (Harry Erwin, Ph. D.) wrote:
> Here's my dumb question: why should neurons need a flip-flop memory
> element? There's no evidence they're digital.
>
> --
> Harry Erwin, PhD, <mailto:harry at dherwin.org>,
> Senior Lecturer in Computing at the University of Sunderland,
> Computational Neuroscientist (modeling bat behavior) and
> Senior SW Analyst and Security Engineer.
>

They are not strictly analogue, either, are they? A neuron either fires
or it does not fire. There is no difference in the amplitude of
individual impulses. Information may be encoded in the frequency of
impulses in a 'volley', or in the length of time for which a volley
lasts, so in that respect they are analogue.

But something has to 'decide' whether a volley will start, what its
frequency will be and when it will stop. The kind of flip-flop memory
elements I described could help to make that decision. Whether what
then happens is analogue or digital I am unable to say.

I am aware that my hypothesis is highly speculative.

Regards,
Andrew Gyles


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