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Neurons and governance



As a decentralized blockchain, all changes to the configuration and behavior of the Internet Computer are controlled by a governance system called the Network Nervous System (NNS). The NNS controls many aspects of the Internet Computer blockchain including:

  • Which data center providers participate in the network.

  • The number, location, and ownership of the nodes accepted from a data center provider.

  • Assignment of nodes to subnet blockchains.

  • Upgrades to newer protocol versions or upgrades of system canisters.

Who can vote?

To favor the long-term sustainability of ICP over short-term interests, only ICP token holders who stake their tokens can participate in the governance process. A staked amount of ICP is called a neuron. The amount of ICP staked in a neuron can only be converted back to ICP after the neuron’s lock-up period, called the “dissolve delay”, has elapsed. The longer the dissolve delay of a neuron, the higher the voting power associated with the neuron.

Neuron holders constitute the governing body of the NNS. Through their neurons, they can vote on proposals and thereby govern the ICP. To incentivize governance participation, neuron holders receive voting rewards. These rewards depend on the number of votes cast and the amount of ICP staked in the respective neurons.