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Noise improves transfer of near-threshold, phase-locked activity of the cochlear nerve: Evidence for stochastic resonance?

, : Noise improves transfer of near-threshold, phase-locked activity of the cochlear nerve: Evidence for stochastic resonance?. Journal of Comparative Physiology A Sensory Neural & Behavioral Physiology 184(6): 577-584, June

Stochastic resonance can be described as improved detection of weak periodic stimuli by a dynamic nonlinear system, resulting from the simultaneous presentation of a restricted dynamic range of low-intensity noise. This property has been reported in simple physical and biological activities. The present study describes data consistent with the interpretation that stochastic resonance can be observed in the response of cochlear neurons. These experiments utilized low levels (-5 to 25 dB SPL) of stimuli and noise (5 to 30 dB SPL). Stimuli consisted of simultaneously presented 8 kHz (F1) and 8.8 kHz (F2) tone bursts, which generated an 800 Hz F2-F1 cochlear nerve envelope ensemble response in the gerbil. The mean response threshold was approximately -3 dB SPL. Simultaneous presentation of a low-intensity wideband noise increased the amplitude of this response. This was observed with tonal stimuli having intensities of 0-5 dB SPL; responses to stimulus levels > 10 dB were attenuated by noise. Response amplitude was increased by noise levels of 10-15 dB; the amplitude was unaffected by lower levels of noise, and decreased in the presence of higher noise levels. These properties are compatible with those of stochastic resonance.


PMID: 10418154

DOI: 10.1007/s003590050357

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