EPSPs & Entropy!

Brains process information, and brain cells transmit data about the world  –  both external and internal  –  through the flow of electricity.  There is often uncertainty in these processes, and multiple potential routes for details about sights, sounds, gut feelings and social interactions to flow through our extraordinarily complex networks of wired neurons.  Entropy is a measure of  uncertainty, or unpredictability, and the higher the entropy, the less information we have…

Shannon entropy, which is named after Claude Shannon, the founder of information theory, measures the amount of information in a “message”  –  and in any message, including the active brain currents generated in response to the rich complexity of sights and sounds on stage at Holocene in Portland on Sunday night…

Our neurons carry these messages in the form of action potentials, discrete pulses of current that begin once graded excitatory post synaptic potentials (EPSPs) and inhibitory post synaptic potentials (IPSPs) are added up, physically, both across time (temporally) and across different synapses (spatially).

LEARN MORE:  How do neurons send electrical messages?

There is information loss in this conversion, but neurons also probabilistically “decide” on what their many complex EPSPs and IPSPs represent, and thus what these messages about our world might be…

LEARN MORE:  Information and Efficiency in the Nervous System—A Synthesis

LEARN MORE:  Consequences of Converting Graded to Action Potentials upon Neural Information Coding and Energy Efficiency

Shannon Entropy is also a popular Portland-based band, and Noggin joined them on Sunday for their new album release party at Holocene..!  Members of Portland State University’s award winning Neuroscience Club were there as well, and Vice President Thomas Madison wired up Noggin Brain Board Member Kindra Crick with a single Neurosky electrode to record her electrical activity in response to some awesome music…

LEARN MORE:  The Sound of Shannon Entropy Is a Collision of Classicism and Irreverence

LEARN MORE:  Record Review  –  Shannon Entropy, Out There Ideas

We enjoyed songs by Mood Beach, Sheers and The Wild War, while piloting our brainwave display options…

LEARN MORE:  Art of Zen app by Joachim Wolffram

Noggin Art Coordinator Jeff Leake spoke briefly about plans for Noggin Fest this October, a benefit to help our neuroscience outreach volunteers present more brains, brain research and art in public schools, the US Congress, and at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Washington DC this fall!

LEARN MORE:  #brains2DC!

Then Holocene artfully projected Kindra’s brain activity behind Shanon Entropy during their show!

Great performances, and a great night!

And there are further collaborative music + neuroscience outreach events on the horizon, too!  We are particularly excited about the imminent arrival of two new 14-channel, research-grade emotiv EEG headsets, thanks to the generosity of the Portland Alcohol Research Center (PARC) at OHSU.  Both OHSU and PSU are extraordinary supporters of creative #sciart outreach in the Pacific Northwest 🙂

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