Tuning Curves

The neurons within each sensory system must collectively encode the vast ranges of stimulus information that are environmentally relevant to the organism. A ubiquitous characteristic of neurons in all sensory systems, however, is their sensitivity to a wide range of stimulus parameters. That is, no single neuron is so selective that it is sensitive to just one single stimulus value. For example, in the auditory system, there will be no neuron that responds only to, say, middle C (∼262 hertz [Hz]) and no other sound frequencies. In order for each of the sensory systems to encode the ranges of possible stimulus parameters, the neurons comprising those systems divvy up the range such that each neuron exhibits differing selectivity, but over restricted ranges of those stimuli. ...

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