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Psychophysical properties determined with internal noise


Psychophysical properties determined with internal noise



The skin senses: 178-194



An important point of the detection model used is that the detectability of small signals by a human observer is determined by internal noise, that is, fluctuations of the relevant neural activity. A method is described for investigating the distribution of this noise and the relationship between the stimulus strength and the neural activity. This method was applied to the warmth, cold and touch sensory system and to the sensory system stimulated by electric current. The experimental data can be described by assuming a normally distributed noise and a stimulus-neural activity relation which is linear for the warmth and cold systems, slightly nonlinear for the touch system and markedly nonlinear for the system stimulated by electric current. Furthermore, interaction between the various skin sensory channels and correlation of the noise of these channels were studied. A suprising absence of interaction and of correlation of noise was found in the warmth, cold, and touch systems. This result is discussed in relation to the specificity of the sensory nerve fibers.

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