are bits of writing from many sources such as personal correspondence,
posts to on-line discussion groups, notes, and occasionally even some
All of this is informal in nature, but contains some interesting and/or
[From an email
occur within cells ?
That's still a
speculative area, but the main mechanism is thought to be a concept
LTP (long term potentiation). You can find loads about that on a casual
search. However, the theory is kind of obvious on the network level.
imagine that all the possible paths in a network represent multiple
in terms of memory or learned behavior. The easiest things to achieve
those options accessed by traveling the easiest course(s) in the
It you want to "learn," you're just trying to change the resistance in
specific paths. The paths are gated by synapses between the cells, so
often hear about "synaptic weights."
difference between the two, excitatory and inhibitory?
One makes a
more likely to fire, the other makes it less likely. It's just like the
gas and the brake in your car.
process in our learning abilities and the like?
memory end of it is a little more complicated, but the gist of it is
the more you use a pathway, the more likely it can be accessed again
"use it or lose it").
roles in our ability to think, speak, act and comprehend? or do they
have a role in such things?
have a role in everything in the human (or animal) condition, but the
of it is harder to tease out. A lot of people have worked out circuitry
to explain some things, but usually we're talking about motor
For example, the knee-jerk reflex takes (I think) four neurons, three
and one inhibitory. Most neuroscience and some physiology texts contain
this diagram. On the other hand, no one have figured out where
resides in the brain, never mind how it works!
[Posted to the
group on MySpace.com in response to a request for clarification of the
are lifted from hyperdictionary.com (a great site!), but the
in the parentheses is my own.
scientific study of the nervous system. (The important distinction is
you're talking about studying something physical. If you aren't talking
about neurons in part or in whole -as in neurotransmitters, receptors,
etc.-, then it isn't neuroscience.)
branch of medicine that deals with the nervous system and its
(A specific application of neuroscience in a medical context. There's a
big overlap with psychology as well, but a neurologist is looking for a
physical basis of pathology, not a mental one.)
science of mental life (Does not require a physical basis to understand
mental life. However, psychology increasingly acknowledges that mental
life emerges from a physical substrate and this places constraints on
- the field of science concerned with cognition [Follow-up: cognition -
the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning].
is more nebulous and actually finds a good balance between psychology
neuroscience a lot of the time. It borrows from both, but also yields
like computational models that have no clear basis in either
or psychology. This isn't a criticism, by the way.)