Craking the neural Code

  • The role of neurons is to receive and transit information.
  • To understand how the brain works, one has to reverse engineer its functions.
  • just as you might try to reverse engineer or crack a code so too scientist are using using some of the new technologies at their disposal to cracking how a neural circuits operate.
  • this is a very difficult problem because the brain is a very complicated organ.
  • the brain has different kind of cells that are all intermixed and intertwined .
  • particular kinds of cells in the brain sensitive to light are made using genetic tricks – this is called optogenetics.
  • how are neurons controlled by light ?, this is a very interesting scientific story that originates from algae and ancient forms of bacteria called archaea bacteria that make light activated ion channels.
  • the ion channels are put into neurons and this allows the use of light to control cells exactly as we want.
  • the use of new imaging tools, world smallest microscope technology are used for looking at brain activity .
  • The neural code in tasks such as this one involves two crucial stages in the information processing.
  • The first stage is sensory coding: the mapping, on each trial, of the sensory stimulus to neural population activity.
  • The second stage is information readout: the mapping from neural population activity to behavioral choice.
  • To survive, organisms must both accurately represent stimuli in the outside world and use that representation to generate beneficial behavioral actions
  • An important observation is that sensory coding and information readout can be based on distinct features: some features of neural activity used to encode sensory information may be ignored when information is read out, and vice versa.
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