To spike or not to spike: That is the question
Both the brain and digital computers process information, but they do this in
completely different ways. Neurons in the brain transmit information not
through bits, but through spikes. Spikes are short voltage increases that are
generated near the cell body of a neuron, with average spike rates below 10
Hz. These spikes are transmitted via fine axonal fibers and synapses to about
10 000 other neurons. Neurons also differ in another fundamental aspect from
processors in a digital computer: they produce spikes according to stochastic
rather than deterministic rules. This article discusses recent progress in
understanding how complex computations can be carried out with such
stochastically spiking neurons. Other recent developments suggest that
spike-based neural networks can be emulated by neuromorphic hardware at a
fraction of the energy consumed by current digital computing hardware. Can
both developments be merged to provide a blueprint for substantially more
energy-efficient computing devices? Explores these issues and examines the
viability of such a merger.
Reference: W. Maass.
To spike or not to spike: That is the question.
Proceedings of the IEEE, 103(12):2219-2224, 2015.