Genealogy of the “grandmother cell”


Gross, Charles G. (The Neuroscientist, 2002)


Description: A “grandmother cell” is a hypothetical neuron that responds only to a highly complex, specific, and meaningful stimulus, such as the image of one’s grandmother. The term originated in a parable Jerry Lettvin told in 1967. A similar concept had been systematically developed a few years earlier by Jerzy Konorski who called such cells “gnostic” units. This essay discusses the origin, influence, and current status of these terms and of the alternative view that complex stimuli are represented by the pattern of firing across ensembles of neurons.

Suggested by: 

A. Treves