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      From the neuron doctrine to neural networks.

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      Nature reviews. Neuroscience

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          Abstract

          For over a century, the neuron doctrine--which states that the neuron is the structural and functional unit of the nervous system--has provided a conceptual foundation for neuroscience. This viewpoint reflects its origins in a time when the use of single-neuron anatomical and physiological techniques was prominent. However, newer multineuronal recording methods have revealed that ensembles of neurons, rather than individual cells, can form physiological units and generate emergent functional properties and states. As a new paradigm for neuroscience, neural network models have the potential to incorporate knowledge acquired with single-neuron approaches to help us understand how emergent functional states generate behaviour, cognition and mental disease.

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          Most cited references103

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          Neural networks and physical systems with emergent collective computational abilities.

          J Hopfield (1982)
          Computational properties of use of biological organisms or to the construction of computers can emerge as collective properties of systems having a large number of simple equivalent components (or neurons). The physical meaning of content-addressable memory is described by an appropriate phase space flow of the state of a system. A model of such a system is given, based on aspects of neurobiology but readily adapted to integrated circuits. The collective properties of this model produce a content-addressable memory which correctly yields an entire memory from any subpart of sufficient size. The algorithm for the time evolution of the state of the system is based on asynchronous parallel processing. Additional emergent collective properties include some capacity for generalization, familiarity recognition, categorization, error correction, and time sequence retention. The collective properties are only weakly sensitive to details of the modeling or the failure of individual devices.
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            Dynamic predictions: oscillations and synchrony in top-down processing.

            Classical theories of sensory processing view the brain as a passive, stimulus-driven device. By contrast, more recent approaches emphasize the constructive nature of perception, viewing it as an active and highly selective process. Indeed, there is ample evidence that the processing of stimuli is controlled by top-down influences that strongly shape the intrinsic dynamics of thalamocortical networks and constantly create predictions about forthcoming sensory events. We discuss recent experiments indicating that such predictions might be embodied in the temporal structure of both stimulus-evoked and ongoing activity, and that synchronous oscillations are particularly important in this process. Coherence among subthreshold membrane potential fluctuations could be exploited to express selective functional relationships during states of expectancy or attention, and these dynamic patterns could allow the grouping and selection of distributed neuronal responses for further processing.
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              Real-time computing without stable states: a new framework for neural computation based on perturbations.

              A key challenge for neural modeling is to explain how a continuous stream of multimodal input from a rapidly changing environment can be processed by stereotypical recurrent circuits of integrate-and-fire neurons in real time. We propose a new computational model for real-time computing on time-varying input that provides an alternative to paradigms based on Turing machines or attractor neural networks. It does not require a task-dependent construction of neural circuits. Instead, it is based on principles of high-dimensional dynamical systems in combination with statistical learning theory and can be implemented on generic evolved or found recurrent circuitry. It is shown that the inherent transient dynamics of the high-dimensional dynamical system formed by a sufficiently large and heterogeneous neural circuit may serve as universal analog fading memory. Readout neurons can learn to extract in real time from the current state of such recurrent neural circuit information about current and past inputs that may be needed for diverse tasks. Stable internal states are not required for giving a stable output, since transient internal states can be transformed by readout neurons into stable target outputs due to the high dimensionality of the dynamical system. Our approach is based on a rigorous computational model, the liquid state machine, that, unlike Turing machines, does not require sequential transitions between well-defined discrete internal states. It is supported, as the Turing machine is, by rigorous mathematical results that predict universal computational power under idealized conditions, but for the biologically more realistic scenario of real-time processing of time-varying inputs. Our approach provides new perspectives for the interpretation of neural coding, the design of experiments and data analysis in neurophysiology, and the solution of problems in robotics and neurotechnology.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nat. Rev. Neurosci.
                Nature reviews. Neuroscience
                1471-0048
                1471-003X
                Aug 2015
                : 16
                : 8
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Neurotechnology Center and Kavli Institute of Brain Sciences, Departments of Biological Sciences and Neuroscience, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.
                Article
                nrn3962
                10.1038/nrn3962
                26152865
                4644f94f-6447-492a-bf05-0668564a5006

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