Romain Brette: Why spikes?

Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale

On a fast timescale, neurons mostly interact by short, stereotypical electrical impulses or spikes. Why? A common answer is that spikes are useful for long-distance communication, to avoid alterations while traveling along axons. But as it turns out, spikes are seen in many places outside neurons: in the heart, in muscles, in plants and even in protists. From these examples, it appears that action potentials mediate some form of coordinated action, a timed event. From this perspective, spikes should not be seen simply as noisy implementations of underlying continuous signals (a sort of analog-to-digital conversion), but rather as events or actions. I will give a number of examples of functional spike-based interactions in living systems.


Guests are welcome! Food and drinks will be provided!


Organized by

Rosa Zimmermann / Lisa Velenosi

Location: BCCN Berlin, lecture hall, Philippstr. 13 Haus 6, 10115 Berlin

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