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Grandmother cells in the human brain?

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We can easily recognize a person or an object in a fraction of a second even when seen from different angles, with different sizes, colors, contrasts and under strikingly different conditions. How neurons in the brain are capable of creating such an invariant representation has been a hot topic of debate in Neuroscience for decades. In epileptic patients candidates to surgery we analyzed the responses of neurons in the human medial temporal lobe to picture presentations. Several technical improvements allowed us to start recording simultaneously from up 100 neurons simultaneously, and this led to the finding of a remarkable type of neuron that fired selectively to different views of familiar individuals or objects. Given the extremely sparse, explicit and abstract representation by these neurons, can they be considered grandmother cells?

This talk is part of the Craik Club series.

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