Last updated : Dec 11, 2021
1. What is a Neuron?
Our brain is the knowledge or information centre for our body where each and every piece of information resides. It is like a server where we have limited capacity such as 2 or 50 TB but the difference between our brain and server in terms of capacity is brain has unlimited capacity whereas the server does not.
So you can think of neuron as a primary component for our information centre(brain). It holds the basic thought which is being or has been generated by you.
A biological neuron diagram looks like this:
You can look up to neuron diagram which shows 3 main parts of a neuron i.e., Neuron Dendrites, Axon and a Nucleus.
Let’s see their further details:
A. Neuron dendrite: This part of a neuron which connects with another neuron and receives input from another neuron.
B. Axon: The axon is like a cable network in our brain and it connects with other neurons for sending signals outwards.
C. Nucleus: It contains the nucleolus and cytoplasm, necessary for coded production of proteins within the cell. Maybe this is the part which holds the actual data of your thought but till now nobody knows how the information is stored in our brain and in what format.
This was what a neuron biologically is but in order to understand the neural functioning and also how neurons in brain works, we need to go beyond the technical concepts. Here we will use one of the most amazing features of our brain; Imagination.
Now let’s try to visualize how a thought becomes a decision, how a thought becomes an idea, how brain expands information by simple day to day tasks such as reading, thinking or maybe doing something or maybe doing anything.
2. How neurons in brain function
Neurons function in a random pattern. When you hear or see something, a new neuron is created and overtime when we again see or hear maybe anything about that topic neuron activation process starts and goes on asynchronously (in background) and it goes on forever till we die. Maybe this activation process and connecting neurons starts from the moment we are born. Also it is not limited to only one topic; this process goes on forever for everything or for every thought.
Let’s see it with an example
Think once that your brain is clear and you do not have neurons at all related to the word ‘Taj Mahal’. And one of your friends come to your place and say let’s visit Taj Mahal. What happens is when you heard Taj Mahal for the first time, a neuron is created and from now onwards whatever you will do may or may not connect with your neuron. Like you started packing up and then you go to bus station or train station or airport and buy tickets and you sat in the mode of transport. Now journey is started and you are awake, you see the road, the roadside vendors, the trees, plants and each and everything that comes in the way will be connected to your neuron and neuron firing will occur. We will see what neuron firing is further in this article.
And after journey you reach Taj Mahal you see it and a picture will be stored in your brain. Storing of images is also a different topic which shows how powerful brain is made by God. A picture is not just a 2d representation of matter done by camera in fact it is a collection of color, pattern, material in the picture, what happened in that picture and what all memories are related to that picture in our brain.
In short for such a small thing called journey our brain processes so many things and stores what all we went through and what all is going on now. So you can say for storing a memory the brain needs multiple neurons connected to one another with an activation ranking.
What is activation ranking?
Activation is like a process of signifying your likeness/unlikeness with a specific memory. For eg. Going back to the example of journey to Taj Mahal maybe some experiences wouldn’t be so nice. So you forget them or you do not want to remember them whenever somebody asks you about your journey. The more you want to forget those memories, the less will be the activation ranking. So now you know why you cannot remember some your childhood memories or usual things because activation ranking is very less as compared to other memories which you still remember.
What is neuron firing?
Neuron firing is a term given to process of interconnecting of neurons for transferring information from one neuron to another through axon. The interconnection happens through electrical impulses and while connecting there is a little spark between them, hence it has the term ‘Neuron Firing’.
So now let’s say you went on the journey and it has been say 5 years now. But if anyone asks you about Taj Mahal visit, what you have to say or how will you remember it? Your neurons will again start firing back and forth and will present you with enough data in terms of the road, the roadside vendors, the trees, plants and each and everything that came in the way to speak about your journey. But only that information will be stored that you considered valuable, that you remembered often in these 5 years because it affects the activation rank.
To better understand how neurons firing works and how neurons function in human brain and not only understand but also to implement it in reality through machine learning, you should read about artifical neuron network, types of neural network in machine learning and deep learning and how activation ranking function works. After all artificial intelligence is copying nature's approach and putting them in machines so that they can work like humans.
That's it for today. You will get to know about such interesting topics in upcoming articles.
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