question: job of a neuron

Matt Jones jonesmat at physiology.wisc.edu
Fri Sep 7 14:00:36 EST 2001

5sfhptkrmvm05edg0k8i57a07rcj5ojg33 at 4ax.com> Richard  Norman,
rsnorman at mediaone.net writes:
>I agree with most everything you say -- and it is very well put --
>almost. Beyond your "liking Ron Blues approach (" do you really
>believe in wavelets?) a technical quibble.  You speculate whether
>inhibitory/modulatory processes increase in  frequency as "brains
>become more complex".  Actually, inhibitory and modulatory processes
>have been around for a very long time.  Consider the crustacean
>stomatogastric ganglion, about the smallest known neural system (some
>two dozen neurons).  It works entirely on inhibitory and modulatory
>interactions between the cells.   You can't get "simpler" than that,
>yet it is incredibly complex in cellular activity.

Indeed. The "earliest" ligand-gated ion channel may be an ancestor of
the modern glycine receptor, an inhibitory synaptic chloride channel.
The nicotinic acetylcholine, 5HT-3 and GABA receptors appear to be its
distant progeny. So if anything, inhibitory processes may have been
around -longer- than excitatory processes (let me know if anyone makes
sense of -that-).

I also agree with John H.'s statements. But we brain scientists are
only human. It's asking a lot to try and take -everything- that
happens in the brain into account all at once. Mostly we proceed by
breaking off a little chunk and trying to understand that. Then later,
we might worry about how it fits back into the whole.

On the other hand, the obvious solution is to think of all brain
function as one big huge wavelet...if we could just compute its
coefficients accurately, then we'd know the secrets of the universe.



P.S.: Yes, I believe in wavelets. They're filtering kernels developed
by Ingrid Daubechies, Stephane Mallat and others, and are pretty damn
useful mathematical tools. I've even used them in some signal
processing chores. But I can't for the life of me figure out what Ron
has in mind when he uses that term.

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