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The Brain's Representational PowerOn Consciousness and the Integration of Modalities$
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Cyriel M.A. Pennartz

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262029315

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262029315.001.0001

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Building Representations with Neurons and Spikes

Building Representations with Neurons and Spikes

Chapter:
(p.11) 2 Building Representations with Neurons and Spikes
Source:
The Brain's Representational Power
Author(s):

Cyriel M. A. Pennartz

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262029315.003.0002

This chapter first reviews basic neuroscience elements required for subsequent chapters, such as the structure and function of neurons. It describes how membrane potentials change as a result of the interplay between different types of ionic channel. Fundamental forms of communication between neurons are explained, such as the actions of neurotransmitters, the chemical messenger substances in the brain. Special attention is paid to structure and function of the neocortex. Synaptic plasticity is reviewed as a low-level, cellular substrate for learning and memory. After contemplating how the evolutionarily ancient and more recently developed parts of the brain function and interact as a layered control system, the focus shifts to the functioning of neural structures that "map" sensory features onto the brain. When, for instance, can a map of active neurons be considered to form a representation we may become aware of? How can the existence of different maps in the brain be compatible with us having only one viewpoint or first-person perspective? This chapter culminates in a discussion of what we mean by 'representation' when we consider neural activity patterns in the brain, and what makes the visual cortex "visual".

Keywords:   Map, Neuron, Neocortex, Spike, Synaptic Plasticity, Visual System

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