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Universal principles justify the existence of concept cells

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-06-18, 10:41 authored by C Calvo Tapia, I Tyukin, VA Makarov
The widespread consensus argues that the emergence of abstract concepts in the human brain, such as a “table”, requires complex, perfectly orchestrated interaction of myriads of neurons. However, this is not what converging experimental evidence suggests. Single neurons, the so-called concept cells (CCs), may be responsible for complex tasks performed by humans. This finding, with deep implications for neuroscience and theory of neural networks, has no solid theoretical grounds so far. Our recent advances in stochastic separability of highdimensional data have provided the basis to validate the existence of CCs. Here, starting from a few first principles, we layout biophysical foundations showing that CCs are not only possible but highly likely in brain structures such as the hippocampus. Three fundamental conditions, fulfilled by the human brain, ensure high cognitive functionality of single cells: a hierarchical feedforward organization of large laminar neuronal strata, a suprathreshold number of synaptic entries to principal neurons in the strata, and a magnitude of synaptic plasticity adequate for each neuronal stratum. We illustrate the approach on a simple example of acquiring “musical memory” and show how the concept of musical notes can emerge.

Funding

This work was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (19-12-00394) and by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (FIS2017-82900P).

History

Citation

Calvo Tapia, C., Tyukin, I. & Makarov, V.A. Universal principles justify the existence of concept cells. Sci Rep 10, 7889 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-64466-7

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Scientific Reports

Volume

10

Issue

1

Pagination

7889

Publisher

Nature Research

issn

2045-2322

eissn

2045-2322

Acceptance date

2020-04-16

Copyright date

2020

Available date

2021-06-18

Notes

5 pages, 5 figures, Supplemental Material (+4 pages)

Spatial coverage

England

Language

English

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