[ExI] Vermis ex machina

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Tue Mar 3 10:52:24 UTC 2015

John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com> , 2/3/2015 7:43 PM:

I agree. Most think that Long Term Potentiation is the molecular basis of memory and in the January 28 1994 issue of Science Dan Madison and Erin Schuman found that Long Term Potentiation spreads out, by diffusion of Nitric Oxide (NO), over several cell diameters;  so you have lots of copies of the same identical information, so a single synapse can't be the equivalent of one bit of information, instead a bunch of potentiated synapses work together to store that one bit of information.

How well have that actually held up? There was a lot of interest in it back in the 90s, but I have not seen much mention of it over the past 15 years. There are a few papers talking about lateral LTP like http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25260706 but most just talk about NO as relevant locally for LTP. 

Whether diffusion of NO (and CO, H2S) mean synapses have less than one bit of information is actually tricky to tell, since you could have one bit per synapse on average but distributed across a few neighbours: their potentiation levels would contain a mixture of several bits, individually retrievable by the right stimulation pattern.

Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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