Unsupervised Thinking
a podcast about neuroscience, artificial intelligence and science more broadly

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Episode 26: The Concept of Coding - Part 1

The concept of "coding," along with language referencing it, is abundant in neuroscience whether describing sensory systems, cognition, or motor control. The notion that neurons encode information is so core to neuroscience it is almost difficult to imagine the field without it. In the first part of this two-part discussion on coding, we talk about the origins of the coding concept. We start with some of the early experimental work that demonstrated the most basic response properties of neurons. We then delve into a conference report from the 60's that summarized the state of the field at that time and find it (depressingly?) relevant for today. In particular, the focus at that time on coding as only an imperfect metaphor is contrasted with its perhaps outsized role in modern work. We ask things like: When is the metaphor working, and when is it stretched beyond recognition? What qualities does a code need to have to be a candidate for the "neural code"? and If there is a neural code, who's reading it out? By the end, Grace freaks out about how abstract "information processing" is, and Josh and Conor claim the whole world is just one big information processing machine.

We read:
Neurosciences Research Program report on Neural Coding

And mentioned:
List of recommended readings on coding
Our fMRI episode

Upcoming readings for Part 2:
Neural Representation and the Cortical Code
Is coding a relevant metaphor for the brain?

To listen to (or download) this episode, (right) click here

As always, our jazzy theme music "Quirky Dog" is courtesy of Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) 

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