The energy-speed-accuracy trade-off in sensory adaptation

Condensed Matter journal club

The energy-speed-accuracy trade-off in sensory adaptation

  • Event time: 11:30am
  • Event date: 18th May 2012
  • Speaker: Steven Court (Formerly School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)
  • Location: Room 2511,

Event details


Adaptation is the essential process by which an organism becomes better suited to its environment. The benefits of adaptation are well documented, but the cost it incurs remains poorly understood. Here, by analysing a stochastic model of a minimum feedback network underlying many sensory adaptation systems, we show that adaptive processes are necessarily dissipative, and continuous energy consumption is required to stabilize the adapted state. Our study reveals a general relation among energy dissipation rate, adaptation speed and the maximum adaptation accuracy. This energy-speed-accuracy relation is tested in the Escherichia coli chemosensory system, which exhibits near-perfect chemoreceptor adaptation. We identify key requirements for the underlying biochemical network to achieve accurate adaptation with a given energy budget. Moreover, direct measurements confirm the prediction that adaptation slows down as cells gradually de-energize in a nutrient-poor medium without compromising adaptation accuracy. Our work provides a general framework to study cost-performance trade-offs for cellular regulatory functions and information
Nature Physics Advance Online Publication
pdf version of paper


Ganhui Lan, Pablo Sartori, Silke Neumann, Victor Sourjik & Yuhai Tu