Vol. 2 No. 1 (2019): Current Issue
Review Article

Are Neural Transactions in the Retina Performed by Phase Ternary Computation?

Johnson AS
Department of Biology, University of Naples, Federico II, Via Cintia 26, 80126 Naples, Italy
Winlow W
Institute of Ageing and Chronic Diseases, The Apex Building, West Derby Street, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L7 8TX, UK
Published October 9, 2019
  • Retinal coding,
  • Retinal neural network,
  • Phase ternary computation,
  • Computational action potential,
  • Neural transactions,
  • Action potential pulse,
  • Timing by synchronization,
  • Error correction,
  • Mean sampling,
  • Computation of luminosity
  • ...More
How to Cite
Johnson AS, & Winlow W. (2019). Are Neural Transactions in the Retina Performed by Phase Ternary Computation?. Annals of Behavioral Neuroscience, 2(1), 223-236. https://doi.org/10.18314/abne.v2i1.1893


Substantial evidence has accumulated to show that the action potential is always accompanied by a synchronized coupled soliton pressure pulse in the cell membrane, the action potential pulse (APPulse). Furthermore, it has been postulated that, in computational terms, the action potential is a compound ternary structure consisting of two digital phases (the resting potential and the action potential) and a third-time dependent analogue variable, the refractory period. Together, with the APPulse, these phases are described as the computational action potential (CAP), which allows computation by phase. The nature of transmission, and thus computation across membranes, is dependent upon their structures, which have similar components from one neuron to another. Because perception and therefore sentience must be defined by the capabilities of the brain computational model, we propose that phase-ternary mathematics (PTM) is the native mathematical process underlying perception, consciousness and sentience. In this review, we take the CAP concept and apply it to the working of a well-defined neural network, the vertebrate retina. We propose an accurate working computational model of the retina and provide an explanation of computation of the neural transactions within it using PTM, and provide evidence that could form the basis of understanding neural computation within the entire nervous system. Evidence is presented of phase ternary computation (PTC), defined in phase ternary mathematics and shows an exact mathematical correlation between the activity of the amacrine cells, the bipolar cells and ganglion cells of the retina, once these cells have been activated by light falling on the cones. In this model, the computation of luminosity of multiple cones synapsed to a bipolar cell is performed by phase ternary mathematics at the points of convergence of CAPs. Redaction by the refractory periods of converging CAPs eliminates all but the leading APPulse resulting in sampling and averaging. In phase ternary analysis (PTA), the physiology of synapses defines their primary action as latency changers, changing the time taken for impulses to travel between points of convergence. This paper describes a novel type of computation, PTC, with evidence that it is the fundamental computational method used by the retina and by association the rest of the brain. By comparing the morphology of neurons it is now possible to explain their function singly and in networks. This has profound consequences both for our understanding of the brain and in clinical practice.