May 1, 2005 (Vol. 25, No. 9)


Strong Points: Useful Program
Weak Points: None

The word “virtual” is WAY overused. Lazy people use it to describe the use of the computer in simulations (virtual life), imaging (virtual reality), teaching (virtual classrooms/virtual laboratories), publishing (virtual library), and zillions of others I won’t describe here. These thoughts came to mind when I discovered the MetaNeuron program site. It provides downloaders with a program (Mac or Windows) that plots membrane potential under a dizzying array of user-definable conditions. Controls allow users to define resting membrane potential conditions, membrane time constants, axon action potentials, axon voltage clamps, and synaptic potential and current. Now that the nervous system has gone virtual, perhaps someone can put it together with a virtual brain and get one step closer to something that could actually be described as a virtual life form.

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