September 16, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Neiman: Spontaneous Oscillations and Sensory Information Coding by Peripheral Receptors

Dr. Alexander Neiman, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, presented at a conference on “Emergent and Adaptive Behaviors in Soft Matter and Living Systems” Sept. 16 at Ximen University in Xiamen, China.

Dr. Alexander Neiman

Dr. Alexander Neiman

His talk was on “Spontaneous Oscillations and Sensory Information Coding by Peripheral Receptors.”

“Self-sustained oscillations have been observed in several types of peripheral sensory receptors, e.g. in senses of hearing and balance,” he says in his abstract. “We  discuss how biological sensors may utilize oscillations to optimize their sensitivity and information processing. We  use a particular example of spontaneously active peripheral sensory system, electroreceptors of paddlefish, which use passive electrosense to feed on zooplankton.

“A single peripheral electroreceptor  is a complex system comprised of several thousands of sensory epithelial cells innervated by a few primary sensory neurons. It embeds two distinct oscillators: one resides in a population of epithelial cells, synaptically coupled to another oscillator  in neurons’ terminals. We use a combination of experimental, theoretical and numerical methods to unravel functional roles of spontaneous oscillations in this peripheral nervous system and show how the dynamic adaptation combined with oscillations optimise encoding of sensory information.”

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