Theoretical Neuroscience : State of the Art


Once upon a time, an experimental neurobiologist was asked whether he thought there was a role for theory in neurobiology. He answered with a resounding " No. " Then he explained his reasoning for giving this answer. The irony of this story is that the experimentalist had a theory of why there was no role for theory. On a serious note, any experimental research activity, from planning an experiment to interpreting the data, requires having in mind an abstract representation of the studied phenomenon. This representation, no matter how simplistic or complex, is a theory, and is indispensable for any coordinated research effort. Then, undoubtedly, there is a role for theory in neurobiology; the real question subfields of neurobiology, these conditions are beginning to be met. Moreover, the immense complexity of the facing neurobiology today is whether there is a role for theorists. Although as a theorist I obviously think that brain guarantees that the sophistication of neurobiology will keep growing, thus driving up the demand for theo-the answer is yes, this may not be evident to everyone. The argument in favor of having theorists is based on rists. This makes the future of theoretical neuroscience rather bright. the division of labor concept. Just as having professional millers and bakers results in better and cheaper bread, How can someone learn the craft of theoretical neuro-biology? The first generation of theoretical neuroscien-having professional theorists and experimentalists is likely to result in higher quality papers and more efficient tists came mostly from a physics background. In physics , where a theoretical culture exists, the craft is learned research. A theorist's role in science is to create an abstract by students through courses and textbooks. To become a self-perpetuating field, neuroscience has to develop representation of the studied phenomenon. To be valid, this representation must be logically self-consistent. To its own theoretical culture and fundamental texts. There are already several excellent books covering various be relevant, this representation must explain experimental observations and make experimentally testable pre-specialized topics in theoretical neurobiology such as, for example, Spikes: Exploring the Neural Code by F. dictions. These are often very challenging requirements that demand a full-time effort from a scientist, thus sup-Rieke et al. (MIT Press; 1996) on representation of sensory signals in neural spike trains using information the-porting the division of labor argument. However, the division of labor may not always be advantageous. Even ory, …

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@inproceedings{Dayan2002TheoreticalN, title={Theoretical Neuroscience : State of the Art}, author={Peter Dayan and Larry F. Abbott}, year={2002} }