Updated 8 Mar 2021
Neurons are complex dynamical machines and you can read all about the amazing ways in which they work in a textbook. But how do we know this? How did the scientists who discovered this figure it out? In this six week project, we will don the hat of the intrepid explorer and discover for ourselves the secrets of neurons and spikes using in-silico cells that we can play with on our computers. Our neuron, like many other seemingly mysterious things in the universe, is an Oracle, and will answer any question we ask of it. Like the Oracle of Delphi, its answers can be cryptic and apparently contradictory, and we will learn the art of asking carefully worded questions that will compel the sibylline cell to reveal to us beautiful and intricate mechanisms at the heart of how it behaves.
Because neurons don’t speak English (or Greek), our questions to it will have to be posed as experiments and manipulations, and we will have to learn to interpret its responses correctly. Each week, we’ll do a new set of experiments to fill in the blank spaces in our mental map of how this neuron works. We’ll learn not just the secrets of this particular neuron, but also general principles in neuroscience and physics, and we will arm ourselves with the tools to crack open other knotty problems as we encounter them in the future.
Srinivas Gorur Shandilya (2022). BlackBoxNeuron (https://github.com/sg-s/black-box-neuron-public/releases/tag/v21.3.8), GitHub. Retrieved .
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