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Physics of psychophysics: Stevens and Weber-Fechner laws are transfer functions of excitable media

Mauro Copelli, Antônio C. Roque, Rodrigo F. Oliveira, and Osame Kinouchi
Phys. Rev. E 65, 060901(R) – Published 26 June 2002
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Sensory arrays made of coupled excitable elements can improve both their input sensitivity and dynamic range due to collective nonlinear wave properties. This mechanism is studied in a neural network of electrically coupled (e.g., via gap junctions) elements subject to a Poisson signal process. The network response interpolates between a Weber-Fechner logarithmic law, and a Stevens power law depending on the relative refractory period of the cell. Therefore, these nonlinear transformations of the input level could be performed in the sensory periphery simply due to a basic property: the transfer function of excitable media.

  • Received 9 August 2001


©2002 American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

Mauro Copelli*

  • Instituto de Física, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Avenida Litorânea, s/n, 24210-340, Niterói, RJ, Brazil

Antônio C. Roque, Rodrigo F. Oliveira, and Osame Kinouchi§

  • Departamento de Física e Matemática, Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Avenida dos Bandeirantes 3900, 14040-901, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil

  • *Electronic address: mcopelli@df.ufpe.br
  • Electronic address: antonior@neuron.ffclrp.usp.br
  • Electronic address: rodrigo@neuron.ffclrp.usp.br
  • §Electronic address: osame@dfm.ffclrp.usp.br

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Vol. 65, Iss. 6 — June 2002

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The editors of Physical Review E are pleased to announce that the journal’s stated scope has been expanded to explicitly include the term “Biological Physics.”

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