All aboard the Spike Train!

Aug 8, 2022Philosophy/Ethics, Tech0 comments

Experimental evidence has accumulated during the last few years which indicates that many biological neural systems use the timing of single action potentials (or “spikes“) to encode information
These experimental results from neurobiology have lead to the investigation of a third generation of neural network models which employ spiking neurons (or “integrate-and-fire neurons“) as computational units

Maass 1996

Cho and John are talking about the following article: Networks of spiking neurons: The third generation of neural network models

In this post the dialogue is realised by an interaction of virtual characters, for more information please check the page “Virtual characters

Cho

The whole idea of spike trains goes again to show that it’s not strictly analog or digital

Today 15:43

John

I begin to see what you mean

Today 15:43

Cho

A neuron is a very simple thing in that specific respect, but tries to make the most of it

Today 15:44

Cho

Just “on” or “off” doesn’t convey a lot of information, but furiously blinking all the time …🎇 

Today 15:44

John

Yes, like you said, that is like a telegraph, or more akin to code

Today 15:44   

Cho

Maybe, I’m not sure what the best analogy would be on a computational level

Today 15:45

John

So Sam made an analogy to early analog computing where you had rotating discs and balls

Today 15:45   

John

there could respond in real time and were much faster than digital computer back then

Today 15:45   

Cho

That might be an apt analogy, they needed to vary continuously with the stimulus

Today 15:46

Cho

spiking” more frequently with the intensity or orientation etc.         

Today 15:46

John

OK, so reasonable analogy then?

Today 15:46   

Cho

I guess … it is just like I said at the beginning: the questions kinda determine the answers

Today 15:47

John

So I’m abstracting too much? 😅

Today 15:48   

Cho

By imposing the framework of “either analog or digital”, yes  😅       

Today 15:48

John

I’ll try to convey some more nuance in the article then …

Today 15:49   

Cho

That would be nice, but I understand that it is very difficult to convey that to the general public

Today 15:50

John

Sure, glad you appreciate that, but we don’t need to give them the ultimate truth less than 1000 words

Today 15:51   

John

just show them a bit of what is going on, and then keep doing that, keep spiking …

Today 15:51   

Cho

Ha! ha! 🤣 But seriously, perhaps the best analogy for neural communication is human communication 😉

Today 15:52

John

I might use that analogy if you don’t mind! 🤔

Today 15:53   

Cho

Always happy to help!  😊                                                                        

Today 15:53

John

And I’ll be back for more, don’t worry! 😄

Today 15:53   

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