- Brian Johnson
- San Jose, CA
- United States
Scientist at Intel Corporation 1987-2008
Models for the human brain need to reflect the biological details of the brain and the computer is inadequate for this.
In thinking about the human brain , as well as brains other mammal species, analogies to computers have been proposed. I would argue that digital computing as we know it today gives an overly simplified model to the "wetware" of brains which leads to simplistic mechanistic views. Neurons have been thought to function like transistor switches ; being connected in circuits and having discrete firing pulses across their synapses. New scientific data suggest much more complicated functioning [ several examples are described in "Rhythms of the Brian" by Gyorgy Buzsaki ]. All regions of a neuron cell surface have been found to be subject to stimulation from the intracellular and intercellular medium, ion channels have voltage dependence driven by intercellular oscillatory waves and most importantly all parts of a neuron can function like a resonator-oscillator leading to potential waves being transmitted across large regions of cells as well as leading to neural firing. This enables regions of the brain to become synchronized. As an aside this functioning is likely to be the basis for alpha,theta ... voltage waves that can be measured with EEG. This operating mechanism of oscillation also enables very fast communication across large regions of the brain [ neuron firing is actually very slow ( tens of msecs ). In contrast transistors are either on ( high current) or off ( low current) and only their connections through circuits lead to information processing. The extreme power of computing hardware is the speed in which billions of transistors can operate. The extreme power of the brain is likely to be driven by the enormous complexity of interactions of neurons with their cellular environment and their synchronization by oscillations, as well as the signal processing of vast interconnections of neurons though pulse firing at synapses.