- Poster presentation
- Open Access
Bayesian inference from single spikes
© Monk and Paulin; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013
- Published: 8 July 2013
- Bayesian Inference
- Stimulus Level
- Prey Capture
- Conditional Probability Density
- Neuronal Spike
Spiking neurons appear to have evolved concurrently with the advent of animal-on-animal predation, near the onset of the Cambrian explosion 543 million years ago. We hypothesize that strong selection pressures of predator-prey interactions can explain the evolution of spiking neurons. The fossil record and molecular phylogeny indicate that animals existed without neurons for at least 100 million years prior to the Cambrian explosion. The first animals with nervous systems may have been derived sponge larvae that started feeding in the water column .
We use models and computer simulations of predator-prey interactions to show that thresholding prey proximity detectors can greatly improve a predator's performance under certain ecological conditions. If a prey produces a stimulus, then there is a critical stimulus level at which a predator's expected energetic return for striking exceeds the expected return for not striking. A predator with a mechanism for triggering a strike when the stimulus reaches this critical level has a massive advantage over predators lacking such a mechanism. We suggest that the first neurons were threshold-detecting devices that served this function.
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