Feeds

Human brain 'works like US presidential elections'

If only you could kill those with beer, too

Security for virtualized datacentres

American brain specialists, in an announcement which may explain many puzzling aspects of human behaviour, say that the human bonce's decision-making process functions in a very similar way to US presidential elections.

William Kath and Nelson Spruston, of Northwestern Uni in Illinois, discovered the so-called “two-layer integration model" within brain cells using electron microscopy. Northwestern mouthpieces say that the two-layer system as used by neurons is similar to the way the US "electoral college" selects the president.

In the US electoral college, people in the many states vote using various different systems - "winner takes all", congressional district, dimpled chads etc - to choose electors who then select candidates for president. The electors are generally compelled to say in advance who they will choose for prez, though in rare cases they have actually voted differently.

In the brain, it seems that each dendritic branch attached to a neuron is the equivalent of a state, receiving thousands of signals from its dendrites but sending just one onward. The branch signals are then aggregated in a fashion similar to the electoral college - but speedier and less plagued by fist-eatingly tedious TV coverage. A single signal is then sent out by the neuron along its axon, in the equivalent of a president being chosen.

According to Northwestern Uni, after the as-it-were presidential brain election "the result could be an output in the form of an impulse, or action potential, or no action at all".

In Britain, of course, the prime minister is selected by a variety of different methods. Sometimes there is an general election process where people vote for MPs and this knocks on almost directly to select the PM. On other occasions (as we have now) a leader is chosen by the MPs of one party only without any consultation of the citizenry, as though neurons had lost most of their dendrites - a condition which causes a variety of terrible brain problems.

The Northwestern boffinry can be read by subscribers to the journal Neuron here. ®

Bootnote

If you don't get the subhead, remember the wise words of Homer Simpson.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.