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Work Meets LifeExploring the Integrative Study of Work in Living Systems$
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Robert Levin, Simon Laughlin, Christina De La Rocha, and Alan Blackwell

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262014120

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014120.001.0001

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Energy, Information, and the Work of the Brain

Energy, Information, and the Work of the Brain

Chapter:
(p.39) 2 Energy, Information, and the Work of the Brain
Source:
Work Meets Life
Author(s):

Simon B. Laughlin

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262014120.003.0002

This chapter addresses the link between energy and information in living systems. It analyzes the costs of moving information through biological systems and the energetic and evolutionary implications of these costs. It demonstrates that the quantities of energy used for neural processing are enough to limit processing power, by developing energy budgets for mammalian cerebral cortex. It also discusses the quantities of energy required and their impacts on a brain’s ability to process information. This chapter shows that brains must consume energy to function and that these requirements are sufficiently demanding to limit performance and determine design. It suggests that nervous systems use information to direct energy into work, and they use energy to direct information.

Keywords:   energy, process information, living systems, neural processing, mammalian cerebral cortex, nervous systems, work

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