Fwd: Noise and cognition

From: Wade T.Smith (wade_smith@harvard.edu)
Date: Thu May 23 2002 - 14:28:09 BST

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    Subject: Fwd: Noise and cognition
    Date: Thu, 23 May 2002 09:28:09 -0400
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    Noise is crucial in information studies, and here's another piece of the
    'subliminal' puzzle, I would say-

    - Wade


    Noise and cognition

    While most of us think of noise as being something that tends to drown
    out signals, there are, in fact, times when a little noise makes it
    possible to detect a signal that would otherwise be undetectable. The
    effect, dubbed ''stochastic resonance,'' is easy enough to understand:
    If, for example, a voice is below your threshold to hear it, and then
    some extra noise comes along, sometimes the noise will add to the voice
    raising it to the point that it becomes audible. It would be noisy and
    imperfect, granted, but still better than nothing. Now Toshio Mori and
    Shoichi Kai of the University of Kyushu in Japan showed, for the first
    time, that the human brain actually uses stochastic resonance. They found
    that randomly varying (''noisy'') light shone on the left eyes of
    subjects improved their brains' ability to detect a dim, flickering light
    shining into their right eyes. There are lots of natural sources of noise
    in the human brain, so the race will be on now to see which of these
    contribute most to the basic workings of our minds.

    ref.: Physical Review Letters, May 27, 2002.

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