Cellular computation and cognition

Veröffentlichungen: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelPeer Reviewed


Contemporary neural network models often overlook a central biological fact about neural processing: that single neurons are themselves complex, semi-autonomous computing systems. Both the information processing and information storage abilities of actual biological neurons vastly exceed the simple weighted sum of synaptic inputs computed by the “units” in standard neural network models. Neurons are eukaryotic cells that store information not only in synapses, but also in their dendritic structure and connectivity, as well as genetic “marking” in the epigenome of each individual cell. Each neuron computes a complex nonlinear function of its inputs, roughly equivalent in processing capacity to an entire 1990s-era neural network model. Furthermore, individual cells provide the biological interface between gene expression, ongoing neural processing, and stored long-term memory traces. Neurons in all organisms have these properties, which are thus relevant to all of neuroscience and cognitive biology. Single-cell computation may also play a particular role in explaining some unusual features of human cognition. The recognition of the centrality of cellular computation to “natural computation” in brains, and of the constraints it imposes upon brain evolution, thus has important implications for the evolution of cognition, and how we study it.

FachzeitschriftFrontiers in Computational Neuroscience
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 23 Nov. 2023

ÖFOS 2012

  • 106051 Verhaltensbiologie


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