Noise induced processes in neural systems
Real neurons, and their networks, are far too complex to be described exactly by simple deterministic equations. Any description of their dynamics must therefore incorporate noise to some degree. It is my thesis that the nervous system is organized in such a way that its performance is optimal, subject to this constraint. I further contend that neuronal dynamics may even be enhanced by noise, when compared with their deterministic counter-parts. To support my thesis I will present and analyze three case studies. I will show how noise might (i) extend the dynamic range of mammalian cold-receptors and other cells that exhibit a temperature-dependent discharge; (ii) feature in the perception of ambiguous figures such as the Necker cube; (iii) alter the discharge pattern of single cells.