We present stochastic resonance observed in the dynamics of neuronal networks from mammalian brain. Both sinusoidal signals and random noise were superimposed into an applied electric field. As the amplitude of the noise component was increased, an optimization (increase then decrease) in the signal-to-noise ratio of the network response to the sinusoidal signal was observed. The relationship between the measures used to characterize the dynamics is discussed. Finally, a computational model of these neuronal networks that includes the neuronal interactions with the electric field is presented to illustrate the physics behind the essential features of the experiment.
Stochastic resonance, a nonlinear phenomenon in which random noise optimizes a system's response to a signal, has been postulated to provide a role for noise in information processing in the brain. In these experiments, a time varying electric field was used to deliver both signal and noise directly to a network of neurons from mammalian brain. As the magnitude of the stochastic component of the field was increased, resonance was observed in the response of the neuronal network to a weak periodic signal. This is the first demonstration of stochasitc resonance in neuronal networks from the brain.
Related Article: Sharpening the Senses With Neural 'Noise' [James Glanz, Science, 277, 1759 (1997)]