Santa Fe Institute Collaboration Platform

Thermodynamics of Computation

Simon Laughlin

From Thermodynamics of Computation

Biography: Our group is interested in discovering design principles that govern the structure and function of neurons and neural circuits. We record from well-defined neurons, mainly in flies’ visual systems, to measure the molecular and cellular factors that determine relevant measures of performance, such as representational capacity, dynamic range and accuracy. We combine this empirical approach with modelling to see how the basic elements of neural systems (ion channels, second messengers systems, membranes, synapses, neurons, circuits and codes) combine to determine performance. We are investigating four general problems. How are circuits designed to integrate information efficiently? How do sensory adaptation and synaptic plasticity contribute to efficiency? How do the sizes of neurons and networks relate to energy consumption and representational capacity? To what extent have energy costs shaped neurons, sense organs and brain regions during evolution?

Field(s) of Research: Thermodynamics of Neurobiology

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Reference Materials

  1. A simple coding procedure enhances a neuron’s information capacity