SC8 Neural Biophysical Properties and Neural Computation
The remarkable abilities of our brain rely, at the core, on the coordinated activity of neurons in local networks. It is commonly assumed that functional computations are shaped by the way neurons are connected in networks. Properties of the neurons themselves, however, can vary widely and are specialised to contribute to computational function. In this course we will look at basics of neuronal processing from a combined biological-mathematical perspective. We will introduce how electrical activity in neurons is generated and how biophysical processes modulate activity. Cell-intrinsic properties determine which information is passed on by a cell. Cell-intrinsic properties also influence how neurons synchronise in a network. Moreover, not only functional considerations, but also evolutionary constraints determine neural design. Variable temperatures, limited energetic resources, restricted space - all these parameters may disturb physiological processes and interfere with neural computation. At the end of the course you will hopefully be more aware of the fact that our brain is not only a fascinating organ, but is also made of individual components that have been carefully designed in evolution to ensure robust neuronal function.