Actual sensory receptors carry out the primary coding of stimuli (irritants) by converting their energy into sequences of action potentials (spikes), which subsequently reach the brain and are used to produce the necessary response. This paper investigates the role of analog-to-pulse transformation, i.e., the transformation of receptor potentials into sequences of action potentials, the role of the divergence of the excitation of one receptor cell onto a set of first-order neurons, and also the role of adaptation and stochasticity of the reactions of the neurons (because of spontaneous activity) in increasing the sensitivity to amplitude-time variations of stimuli by the addition of noise. © 2005 Optical Society of America

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