question: job of a neuron

Richard Norman rsnorman at mediaone.net
Sun Sep 2 20:19:54 EST 2001

On Sun, 02 Sep 2001 19:15:31 -0400, Kalman Rubinson <kr4 at nyu.edu>

>I suggest that you get a simple neuroscience textbook and read it.  If
>you do you will find that you will ask different questions and better
>understand the answers.

I recommend exactly the same thing.  I don't have a selection
of "introductory" books here at home with me -- one I do have is
    "The Brain Explained"
    D. Drubach
    Prentice Hall Health, 2000

Any good introductory college level biology textbook will have a
lot of valuable background on the workings of the neuron and the
organization of the brain.    You might be able to find something 
suitable by visiting a University library (or bookstore).

>  On Sun, 02 Sep 2001 19:59:54 GMT, remove_this!helbrecht at gmx.net
>("Wolfram") wrote:
>>Richard  Norman <rsnorman at mediaone.net> wrote:
>>> On Sat, 01 Sep 2001 22:47:08 GMT, remove_this!helbrecht at gmx.net
>>> ("Wolfram") wrote:
>>> >Everywhere on the web i can read pages about _how_ neurons work,
>>> >_how_ they interact with others, _how_ the whole brain works (some
>>> >pages assert this).
>>> >Has yet someone figured out _what_ a neuron does, i.e. what its
>>> >task is?
>>> A neuron is a specialized animal cell that uses changes in membrane
>>> potential to control secretion of specialized intercellular signaling
>>> chemicals -- neurotransmitters.
>>Yes, that describes, again, the _how_ it works.
>>> It is really not appropriate to ask what its "task" is.  That would be
>>> like asking what the task of a particular "flip-flop" element in the
>>> internal logic of CPU storage register is.  Its task is to use its
>>> biochemical and biochemical machinery to process information.
>>Well, represents a neuron that information, or where gets it (or
>>another neuron) it from?
>>> real difference between neurons and electronic computational elements
>>> is that neurons tend to change their properties as a result of the
>>> information processing they do -- they show plasticity.
>>This is a new thing to me (but, as said, i am a layman in the
>>field of neuroscience).
>>Does that mean, that a single neuron can behave like a whole
>>neural network? Or did i misunderstand you and the whole idea is
>>that a neuron changes its properties _only_ if there are
>>neighbouring neurons interacting with it, i.e. a neural network?
>>> It is trivial to build simple computing elements AND, OR, NOT
>>> circuits, out of neurons.
>>Did somebody do this? What happens? Do the neurons used for that
>>still tend to change their properties? Or do they stay as they are
>>and don't change anyway?
>>> general operating principles are all fairly well known.  The devil is
>>> in the details.  And it is all details.
>>Yes. But because of that i just asked for the task of a single
>>neuron. :-)
>>One more question.
>>A brain does several different tasks like coordinate walking,
>>reading a book etc. The neurons participating in those tasks -
>>would they all work the same manner?

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