Noise-assisted traffic of spikes through neuronal junctions.
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The presence of noise, i.e., random fluctuations, in the nervous system raises at least two different questions. First, is there a constructive role noise can play for signal transmission in a neuron channel? Second, what is the advantage of the power spectra observed for the neuron activity to be shaped like 1/f(k)? To address these questions a simple stochastic model for a junction in neural spike traffic channels is presented. Side channel traffic enters main channel traffic depending on the spike rate of the latter one. The main channel traffic itself is triggered by various noise processes such as Poissonian noise or the zero crossings of Gaussian 1/f(k) noise whereas the variation of the exponent k gives rise to a maximum of the overall traffic efficiency. It is shown that the colored noise is superior to the Poissonian and, in certain cases, to deterministic, periodically ordered traffic. Further, if this periodicity itself is modulated by Gaussian noise with different spectral exponents k, then such modulation can lead to noise-assisted traffic as well. The model presented can also be used to consider car traffic at a junction between a main and a side road and to show how randomness can enhance the traffic efficiency in a network. (c) 2001 American Institute of Physics.