December 2005
Volume 5, Issue 12
OSA Fall Vision Meeting Abstract  |   December 2005
Does stochastic resonance influence sensory thresholds?
Author Affiliations
  • Theodore E. Cohn
    Visual Detection Lab, UC Berkeley
Journal of Vision December 2005, Vol.5, 54. doi:
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      Theodore E. Cohn; Does stochastic resonance influence sensory thresholds?. Journal of Vision 2005;5(12):54. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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The stochastic resonance (SR) wave began in the field of climate change in the early 1980's. It remained unseen for over a decade but then surfaced, a veritable tsunami, emerging in the arena of neuronal processing (relevant here) plus a plurality of other application areas ranging from operation of physical devices to prosthetics.

The phenomenon is counterintuitive: order in the behavior of complex systems emerges, but only in the presence of noise. For example, a system that cannot sense a weak signal can be improved by adding a little bit of random noise where the signal might occur, but whether or not it occurs. (All appreciate that noise should lessen signal detectability, but in the SR regime, detectability is improved). Too much noise and system performance declines dramatically. The phenomenon requires a nonlinearity: a hard, abrupt threshold. Consider a weak, unseen signal, unseen because it cannot surmount that limit. Adding noise, allows it to do so.

This talk will describe SR phenomena in both the tactile sense and in vision. Some prior demonstrations can be explained by methodological problems. But, if SR actually occurs, an alternative model will be presented that can explain it.

Cohn, T. E. (2005). Does stochastic resonance influence sensory thresholds? [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 5(12):54, 54a,, doi:10.1167/5.12.54. [CrossRef]
 Supported in part by Kanbar Community Fund

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