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The University of Southampton
Southampton Neuroscience Group

School of Biological Sciences Weekly Seminar Series Event

17:00 - 18:00
6 December 2010
Building 85, Room 2207

Event details

Are brains engineered to be efficient and does it help to know?

Prof Simon Laughlin FRS, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, UK

Brains are arguably orders of magnitude more efficient than contemporary computers. A principled "bottom up" approach that relates basic constraints to performance is beginning to reveal the design principles that underpin efficiency. Some, such as wiring economy and redundancy reduction, are well known in engineering and computer science. Others, such as adapting components and circuits to minimise speed, precision and amplification, are emerging from studies of favourable neural systems, where biologically valid measures of performance can be related to cost constraints. These emerging principles parallel recent advances in ultra-low power electronics and energy efficient computers. Such neural design principles are helping us to understand the peculiarities of retinal coding and they will be essential for reverse engineering "the brain". But, these principles are so closely wedded to the molecular architecture of neuronal wetware, will they help engineers to design better devices? 


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