Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 87, Issue 2, pp 79–90 | Cite as

Signal detection theory, detectability and stochastic resonance effects

  • Jakob Tougaard


 Stochastic resonance is a phenomenon in which the performance of certain non-linear detectors can be enhanced by the addition of appropriate levels of random noise. Signal detection theory offers a powerful tool for analysing this type of system, through an ability to separate detection processes into reception and classification, with the former generally being linear and the latter always non-linear. Through appropriate measures of signal detectability it is possible to decide whether a local improvement in detection via stochastic resonance occurs due to the non-linear effects of the classification process. In this case, improvement of detection through the addition of noise can never improve detection beyond that of a corresponding adaptive system. Signal detection and stochastic resonance is investigated in several integrate-and-fire neuron models. It is demonstrated that the stochastic resonance observed in spiking models is caused by non-linear properties of the spike-generation process itself. The true detectability of the signal, as seen by the receiver part of the spiking neuron (the integrator part), decreases monotonically with input noise level for all signal and noise intensities.


Signal Detection Random Noise Signal Detectability Adaptive System Noise Intensity 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jakob Tougaard
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Sound Communication, Institute of Biology, SDU/Odense University, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M, DenmarkDK

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