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Query: Dendritic Networks

Mike Lowndes mike.lowndes at anat.ox.ac.uk
Thu Feb 1 06:03:29 EST 1996

In article <57288.robin073 at maroon.tc.umn.edu>, "Alan J. Robinson"
<robin073 at maroon.tc.umn.edu> wrote:

> Colin:
> The cellular structure of the cerebral cortex is not known with any 
> exactitude - even basic neuroscience textbooks written by highly 
> respected and qualified neuroscientists make conflicting statements.  
> And the functioning of the cerebral cortex is one of the most 
> profound mysteries of science.
I've replied in detail to the original poster but I feel some basics need
reiterating: The cellular structure (tertiary- shape and position) of
cortical neurones is very well known in general, but since each part of
the cortex does different jobs, each part has slightly different
characteristics. Nevertheless the basic principles of organisation and
connectivity are understood. Its the details that aren't.

'dendritic networks' is a meaningless and misleading phrase designed to
confuse and allow the propagation of BS. There are 'dendritic fields' -
most neurones have them, and 'neuronal networks', but NOT dendritic

> This has led to an enormous amount of speculation, much of it by 
> scientists who lack any formal training or "hands on" experience in 
> neuroscience or any related discipline.  There is a large amount of 

True, we must all remember that the neuroscience of neuronal processing is
in its infancy or even its gestation.  You can bet yr bottom pound
sterling that anything written about it by a physicist/mathematition/
modeller is almost bound to turn out WRONG.  The only way to get it right
is to understand the physiology as a first step and we as neurscientists
don't even understand that. 
On the other hand there is nothing wrong with trying to /mimic/ the brains
processes- which is what modellers are doing.

> this material on the Internet, but there are also an increasing number 
> of books and papers being published by these people.  Physicists, 
> followed closely by mathematicians and philosophers seem to be the 
> worst offenders.  Anytime any self-respecting member of the behavioral 
> and brain science community hears the words "quantum" and 
> "consciousness" used together in a single sentence they should run 
> like crazy!
> > AJR

I agree, and yes we do!

Mike (with several years of experience seeing /neurones/ UP CLOSE!)


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