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Neuron. 2002 May 30;34(5):670-2.

Needle from a haystack. Optimal signaling by a nonlinear synapse.

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Department of Neuroscience, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 123 Anatomy/Chemistry Building, Philadelphia 19104, USA.


Commonly, a neuron must separate a small, rare event carried by one of its inputs from the noise carried by many others. In this issue of Neuron, demonstrate that to solve this problem, the rod bipolar neuron in mouse retina selectively amplifies a rod's single-photon signal only when it is larger than average. This nonlinearity rejects nearly three-fourths of the single-photon signals. Yet, by also rejecting noise, it provides nearly optimal filtering near absolute visual threshold.

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