Voltage-sensitive ion channels are crucially involved in information processing and transfer in humans and other multicellular organisms. Due to their small size and limited numbers, ion channels have to function in extremely noisy environment. This naturally creates the following question: Can ion channels and, generally, information transfer in the nervous system utilize ambient noise?
We answer this question by giving two positive examples wherein (i) noise is found to facilitate signal transduction by voltage-sensitive ion channels, thus demonstrating the phenomenon of the so called “stochastic resonance” in this system and (ii) random spike trains are used to create a hypothetical noise-based logic scheme for encoding and processing information by neuronal networks.
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