Noise-enhanced computation in a model of a cortical column

Mayor J, Gerstner W

NEUROREPORT 16 (11): 1237-1240 AUG 1 2005

Varied sensory systems use noise in order to enhance detection of weak signals. It has been conjectured in the literature that this effect, known as stochastic resonance, may take place in central cognitive processes such as memory retrieval of arithmetical multiplication. We show, in a simplified model of cortical tissue, that complex arithmetical calculations can be carried out and are enhanced in the presence of a stochastic background. The performance is shown to be positively correlated to the susceptibility of the network, defined as its sensitivity to a variation of the mean of its inputs. For nontrivial arithmetic tasks such as multiplication, stochastic resonance is a collective property of the microcircuitry of the model network.