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What the languages of nerve cells and people have in common

The research team led by Gasper Tkacik of IST Austria in Klosterneuburg analyzed which signals a salamander retina sends through the optic nerve when one plays it a black and white film with swimming fish. The tool they used was a physical-statistical formula from the field of thermodynamics.

"We found an unusual feature. The probability how frequently a specified pattern arose and the number of times they appeared were incredibly in a precise balance”, Tkacik said. There is a strict connection how complicated and thus improbable and how frequently such “nerve language words” are used.

Similar statistical relationships also exist in human language. Zipf’s Law is well known. It is named after the American linguist George Kingsley Zipf, who formulated this law in the 1930s. 

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