Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagNeurons (and calculation)

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Super macro shot tiny fruit flies on the top of a banana skin

Single Neurons Perform Complex Math — Even in Fruit Flies

The fly wants something simple — to avoid getting swatted or eaten, for example — but that requires some algebra

We may not think of our neurons as performing complex calculations but they must do so in order to determine where sound is coming from or where a moving object is headed. For a long while, how they do it has been a mystery. Recently, researchers at the Max Planck Institute reported that they have “discovered the biophysical basis by which a specific type of neuron in fruit flies can multiply two incoming signals,” the “algebra of neurons”: We easily recognize objects and the direction in which they move. The brain calculates this information based on local changes in light intensity detected by our retina. The calculations occur at the level of individual neurons. But what does it mean when…