The aim of this chapter is to introduce several elementary notions of neuroscience, in particular the concepts of action potentials, postsynaptic potentials, firing thresholds, and refractoriness. Based on these notions a first phenomenological model of neuronal dynamics is built that will be used as a starting point for a discussion of neuronal coding. Due to the limitations of space we cannot - and do not want to - give a comprehensive introduction into such a complex field as neurobiology. The presentation of the biological background in this chapter is therefore highly selective and simplistic. For an in-depth discussion of neurobiology we refer the reader to the literature mentioned at the end of this chapter. Nevertheless, we try to provide the reader with a minimum of information necessary to appreciate the biological background of the theoretical work presented in this book.
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