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Dr. Energyefficient or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Brain!

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A rapidly changing environment is one of the main challenges our brain faces in an every day life. One mechanism to tackle this problem is adaptation: a change in response to a prolonged stimulus. Switching from rods to cones in bright light is one example of visual adaptation. Many sensory systems are believed to adapt to optimize the information uptake and transmission, regardless of the cost of these operations. But the blowfly photoreceptor teaches us a new lesson. To operate in an energy efficient regime, it abandons 8% of the costly information at low light levels and saves 60% on energy consumption. This remarkable tradeoff is achieved by regulating amplification, as described by a theoretical model. Thus in the process of evolution brains have learned to adapt in a more energy efficient way. When will we learn that?

This talk is part of the Darwin College Sciences Group series.

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