When a neuroscientist uses the term “firing”…

What does a neuroscientist mean when he or she uses the term “firing?”

In October 2013 Peter N Steinmetz, director of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, published this study:

Testing for effects of different stimuli on neuronal firing relative to background activity,” Peter N Steinmetz and Chris Thorp, Journal of Neural Engineering, vol. 10, no. 5, October 2013.

In July, 2014, Steinmetz was arrested after he carried an AR-15 rifle into the Phoenix airport, according to this and other news reports:

A man who works as a director at the prestigious Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix was arrested Friday after he carried a rifle into Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix police said…. When confronted, Steinmetz said that he went to the airport only to buy a cup of coffee and had no other business there, police said. Steinmetz is director of the neuroengineering program at the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, according to Barrow’s website.

It is not immediately apparent, to most observers, how those two facts are connected.

Some or many references to Steinmetz turn up if you search the Barrow Institute’s web site, but his name no longer appears on many (or maybe all) of the pages those references refer to.

It is unclear whether the Barrow Institute is firing Steinmetz.

BONUS (probably unrelated): “Regular coffee: A magic bullet or a naked gun? Regular coffee but not espresso drinking is protective against fibrosis in NAFLD,” Guglielmo M. Trovato,  G. Fabio Martines, Francesca M. Trovato, and Daniela Catalano, Journal of Hepatology, vol. 58, no. 6 (2013): 1264-1265.