By Bill Watterson

The 1st selection of the more and more well known cartoon that includes a rambunctious 6-year-old boy and his filled tiger who comes charmingly to existence.

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My theory attached great importance to which of these rules it followed, but the results showed that the sensitivity rose at a rate almost exactly halfway between the alternatives expected. I went home late at night in great gloom, thinking the experiment had failed and was not worth repeating. It was only as I was falling asleep that I remembered that the sensitivity had plunged to a nonsensical-seeming nearzero value for the largest spot size when it spread outside the excitatory receptive field.

I don’t, however, think this has yet been demonstrated in detail in any specific instance as complex and arbitrary as a grandmother cell—if indeed neurons with this degree of selectivity and arbitrariness exist. The discovery of these unexpected attributes of brain cells obviously took one a step forward, and a sizable fraction of the rest of this book includes later results of singleunit recording in the visual system. I regard this work as the “present” of single-unit analysis and shall not attempt to review it in this chapter, but there is a group of experiments that I shall return to since they are, in my opinion, showing the way ahead.

Is it even possible that there are different mechanisms at the same synapse that are reinforced at different pre-post intervals (Barlow, 1996)? Either of these mechanisms could enable a neuron to learn the spatiotemporal pattern of a movement sequence, a speech sound, or a tune. Other possibilities will surely appear as we learn more about the cell biology of the large neurons of the brains of higher animals, but at the moment, the difficult problem seems to be that of determining their functional significance.

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