KINDLY HELPED BY KARL FRISTON: "INFORMATION PROCESSING IN THE CNS: A SUPRAMOLECULAR CHEMISTRY?"

My first long paper in Neuroscience, introducing the novel concept of "SUPRAMOLECULAR PHRENOLOGY"

Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Karl Friston for commenting upon an earlier version of this manuscript.

 

INFORMATION PROCESSING IN THE CNS: A SUPRAMOLECULAR CHEMISTRY?

Tozzi, A. 

Cognitive Neurodynamics. October 2015, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 463-477 DOI: 10.1007/s11571-015-9337-1 

ABSTRACT

How does central nervous system process information?  Current theories are based on two tenets: a) Information is transmitted by action potentials, the language by which neurons communicate with each other – and b) homogeneous neuronal assemblies of cortical circuits operate on these neuronal messages where the operations are characterized by the intrinsic connectivity among neuronal populations.  In this view, the size and time course of any spike is stereotypic and the information is restricted to the temporal sequence of the spikes; namely, the “neural code”.  However, an increasing amount of novel data point towards an alternative hypothesis: a) The role of neural code in information processing is overemphasized.  Instead of simply passing messages, action potentials play a role in dynamic coordination at multiple spatial and temporal scales, establishing network interactions across several levels of a hierarchical modular architecture, modulating and regulating the propagation of neuronal messages. b) Information is processed at all levels of neuronal infrastructure from macromolecules to population dynamics.  For example, intra-neuronal (changes in protein conformation, concentration and synthesis) and extra-neuronal factors (extracellular proteolysis, substrate patterning, myelin plasticity, microbes, metabolic status) can have a profound effect on neuronal computations.  This means molecular message passing may have cognitive connotations.  This essay introduces the concept of “supramolecular chemistry”, involving the storage of information at the molecular level and its retrieval, transfer and processing at the supramolecular level, through transitory non-covalent molecular processes that are self-organized, self-assembled and dynamic.  Finally, we note that the cortex comprises extremely heterogeneous cells, with distinct regional variations, macromolecular assembly, receptor repertoire and intrinsic microcircuitry.  This suggests that every neuron (or group of neurons) embodies different molecular information that hands an operational effect on neuronal computation

 

Here you can find an earlier Draft of the manuscript, before the publication in Cognitive Neurodynamics, 2015