Skip to main content Accessibility help

Our understanding of neural codes rests on Shannon's foundations

  • Charles R. Gallistel (a1)


Shannon's theory lays the foundation for understanding the flow of information from world into brain: There must be a set of possible messages. Brain structure determines what they are. Many messages convey quantitative facts (distances, directions, durations, etc.). It is impossible to consider how neural tissue processes these numbers without first considering how it encodes them.



Hide All
Boker, S. M. (1997) A measurement of the adaptation of color vision to the spectral environment. Psychological Science 8(2):130–34.
Dyer, F. C. & Dickinson, J. A. (1996) Sun-compass learning in insects: Representation in a simple mind. Current Directions in Psychological Science 5:6772.
Gallistel, C.R. (2017). The coding question. Trends in Cognitive Science 21(7):498508.
Gallistel, C. R. (2018) Finding numbers in the brain. Proceedings of the Royal Society London. B Biological Sciences 373(1740):20170119. Available at:
Gallistel, C. R. (in press) Where meanings arise and how: Building on Shannon's foundations. Mind and Language (invited submission to a special issue on representation).
Gallistel, C. R. & King, A. P. (2010) Memory and the computational brain: Why cognitive science will transform neuroscience. Wiley/Blackwell.
Judson, H. (1980) The eighth day of creation. Simon & Schuster.
Maloney, L.T. (2003) Surface colour perception and environmental constraints. In: Colour perception: Mind and the physical world, ed. Masufeld, R. & Heyer, D.. New York: Oxford.
Menzel, R., Kirbach, A., Hass, W.-D., Fischer, B., Fuchs, J., Koblofsky, M., Lehmann, K., Reiter, L., Meyer, H., Nguyen, H., Jones, S., Norton, P. & Greggers, U. (2011) A common frame of reference for learned and communicated vectors in honeybee navigation. Current Biology 21:645–50.
Qian, N. & Zhang, J. (2019) Neuronal firing rate as code length: A hypothesis. Computational Brain and Behavior. Available at:
Rieke, F., Warland, D., van Stevenick R., de Ruyter & Bialek, W. (1997) Spikes: Exploring the neural code. MIT Press.
Shannon, C. E. (1948) A mathematical theory of communication. Bell Systems Technical Journal 27(3):379423, 623–56. Available at:
Stevens, C. F. (2018) Conserved features of the primate face code. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 115(3):584–8. doi:10.1073/pnas.1716341115.
von Frisch, K. (1967) The dance-language and orientation of bees. Harvard University Press.
von Frisch, K. & Lindauer, M. (1954) Himmel und Erde in Konkurrenz bei der Orientierung der Bienen. Die Naturwissenschaften 41(1 June):245–53.

Our understanding of neural codes rests on Shannon's foundations

  • Charles R. Gallistel (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.