Dendrites: Why Biological Neurons Are Deep Neural Networks

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My name is Artem, I’m a computational neuroscience student and researcher. In this video we will see why individual neurons essentially function like deep convolutional neural networks, equipped with insane information processing capabilities as well as some of the physiological mechanisms, that account for such computational complexity.


00:00 Introduction
01:42 – Perceptrons
03:43 – Electrical excitability and action potential
07:12 – Cable theory: passive dendrites
09:03 – Active dendritic properties
12:10 – Human neurons as XOR gates
19:11 – Single neurons as deep neural networks
22:32 – Brilliant
23:57 – Recap and outro

REFERENCES (in no particular order):
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2. Matthew Larkum. Are dendrites conceptually useful? Neuroscience (2022) doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2022.03.008.
3. Polsky, A., Mel, B. W. & Schiller, J. Computational subunits in thin dendrites of pyramidal cells. Nature Neuroscience 7, 621–627 (2004).
4. Tran-Van-Minh, A. et al. Contribution of sublinear and supralinear dendritic integration to neuronal computations. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 9, 67–67 (2015).
5. Gidon, A. et al. Dendritic action potentials and computation in human layer 2/3 cortical neurons. Science 367, 83–87 (2020).
6. London, M. & Häusser, M. DENDRITIC COMPUTATION. Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 28, 503–532 (2005).
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8. Stuart, G. J. & Spruston, N. Dendritic integration: 60 years of progress. Nat Neurosci 18, 1713–1721 (2015).
9. Smith, S. L., Smith, I. T., Branco, T. & Häusser, M. Dendritic spikes enhance stimulus selectivity in cortical neurons in vivo. Nature 503, 115–120 (2013).
10. Beniaguev, D., Segev, I. & London, M. Single cortical neurons as deep artificial neural networks. Neuron 109, (2021).
11. Michalikova, M., Remme, M. W. H., Schmitz, D., Schreiber, S. & Kempter, R. Spikelets in pyramidal neurons: generating mechanisms, distinguishing properties, and functional implications. Reviews in the Neurosciences 31, 101–119 (2019).
12. Larkum, M. E., Wu, J., Duverdin, S. A. & Gidon, A. The Guide to Dendritic Spikes of the Mammalian Cortex In Vitro and In Vivo. Neuroscience 489, 15–33 (2022).

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Brain 3D models were modeled with Blender software using publicly available BrainGlobe atlases (

This video was sponsored by Brilliant