A Society of Neurons


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Dr. Michail (Misha) Tsodyks
Humans are social creatures, and so are their nerve cells. Every nerve cell in the brain is an individual, but its actions are meaningful only within the context of the entire social array _ i.e., the nervous system as a whole.

In the past, scientists thought that nerve cells "fire" electrical impulses in response to stimuli. They then discovered that cells "fire" even when not stimulated. Is the "firing" action random, or is it the result of the nervous system's overall condition? This question preoccupies many scientists through-out the world, including Dr. Michail (Misha) Tsodyks of the Weizmann Institute's Neurobiology Department.

Tsodyks, a physicist whose interest extends to mathematics and computer sciences, is trying to apply the brain's methods of operation to computerized systems. To do this, he devises algorithms _"recipes" that computers follow step by step.

He discovered that every cell in the brain's nerve cell tissue "fires" electrical impulses in a distinct "individual mode" that works within the context of the system as a whole. The closer the individual mode of a particular cell to the mode of the entire brain cell network, the greater the chances that this cell will respond by "firing." This discovery constitutes a significant step toward a better understanding of the brain and the development of advanced computerized systems.

Dr. Michail (Misha) Tsodyks Born - Novokuznetsk, Russia Ph.D. - L.D. Landau Institute of Theoretical Physics, Moscow Postdoctoral research - Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego, California Weizmann Institute of Science - Since 1995
Dr. Tsodyks' research is supported by the Nella and Leon Benoziyo Center for Neurosciences.