Cracking the brain's codes

Christof Koch, Gary Marcus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Researchers suggest that better understanding of the codes of brain neurons can help in developing software that can communicate directly with the brain. It is essential to learn how to look at sets of neurons, measure how they are firing, and reverse-engineer their message. The spike-to-information code is likely to be complex, while the code converting nucleotides to amino acids is nearly universal, used in essentially the same way throughout the body and throughout the natural world. A comparison with computer codes makes clear why this is to be expected. A strategy known as rate coding, is used in different ways in different brain systems, but it is common throughout the brain. It is observed that different subpopulations of neurons encode particular aspects of the world in a similar fashion, using firing rates to represent variations in brightness, speed, distance, orientation, color, pitch, and haptic information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-46
Number of pages5
JournalTechnology Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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