Chapter

Where Are the Switches on This Thing?

L F. Abbott

in 23 Problems in Systems Neuroscience

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195148220
Published online May 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199864676 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195148220.003.0021

Series: Computational Neuroscience Series

 Where Are the Switches on This Thing?

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Self-regulated switching is vital to the operation of complex machines such as computers. The essential building block of a computer is a voltage-gated switch, the transistor, that is turned off and on by the same sorts of currents that it controls. By analogy, this calls attention to neural pathways that not only carry the action potentials that arise from neural activity, but are switched off and on by neural activity as well. This chapter discusses three biophysical mechanisms—neuromodulation, inhibition, and gain modulation—and assess the merits and short-comings of each of them.

Keywords: neurons; neuromodulation; inhibition; gain modulation; action potentials; neural activity

Chapter.  3164 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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