question: job of a neuron

Mark Zarella markzarella at mediaone.net
Mon Sep 3 20:29:52 EST 2001

> How 'bout a transistor?
> 1) It acts as a variable conductance, allowing current to flow if
> certain conditions are met at its base (or gate).
> An op-amp?
> 1) It produces an output that rises until its two inputs attain
> equivalent potentials.
> That doesn't seem so hard. Why not a neuron?

Now you're getting beyond the scope of the question.  Using the analogy, we
can define what a conductor, semiconductor, insulator, and semimetal is and
how they work.  Similarly, we can define what a neuron or endocrine cell (or
any cell, for that matter) is and how they work.  But as you bring various
electrical devices into the picture, each composed of several different
hunks of conductor, semiconductor, and insulator, then to hold true to a
logical analogy you must begin to describe the function of several different
neurons interacting in a particular manner.  But, unless I'm mistaken, the
question was about the job of *a* neuron, not a network.  That's like asking
what a slab of silicon or a hunk of copper does.  It seems to me that the
only meaningful answer (well, at least what I've inferred to be "meaningful"
to the original poster) would depend on how the hundreds or thousands of
silicon slabs and copper/aluminum hunks are arranged in the circuit, no?
After all, he already said he found explanations of how the neuron itself

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