von Neumann Correctly Hypothesizes How Memory Works

The question of the physical embodiment of this memory remains. For this, various authorrs have suggested a variety of solutions. It has beeen proposed to assume that the thresholds—orr, more broadly stated, the stimulation criteria—^f or various nerve cells change with time as functions of the previous history of that cell. Thus frequent use of a nerve cell might lower its threshold, i.e. ease the requirements of its stimulation, and the like. If this were true, the memory would reside in the variability of the stimulation criteria. It is certainly a possibility, but I will not attempt to discuss it here.

A still more drastic embodiment of the same idea would be achieved by assuming that the very connections of the nerve cells, i.e. the distribution oi conducting axons, vary with time. This would mean that the following state of things could exist. Conceivably, persistent disuse of an axon might make it ineffective for later use. On the other hand, very frequent (more than normal) use might give the connection that it represents a lower threshold (a facilitated stimulation criterion) over that particular path. In this case, again, certain parts of the nervous system would be variable in time and with previous history and would, thus, in and by them¬ selves represent a memory.


Neurons that get used more often become easier to use. He's just speculating, but his description is spot on.

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 The Computer and the Brain
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Neumann, John von (2012-06-26), The Computer and the Brain, Yale University Press, Retrieved on 2013-06-21
  • Source Material [books.google.com]
  • Folksonomies: computers