Multiplication noise in the human visual system at threshold - 3. The role of non-Poisson quantum fluctuations

Malvin Carl Teich, Paul R. Prucnal, Giovanni Vannucci, Michael E. Breton, William J. McGill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Several kinds of light used in vision experiments produce photon statistics that are distinctly non-Poisson. Representative examples are light from a cathode-ray tube and an image-intensifier device. For the class of vision experiments in which the photon statistics play an important role, excess fluctuations produced by such light sources can alter the observed results and obscure the visual mechanisms being studied. They must therefore be accounted for in a proper way. We use the results of a Hecht-Shlaer-Pirenne type experiment, carried out with modulated Poisson light, to illustrate the point. Sensitivity and modulation depth, as well as sensitivity and reliability, are shown to be traded against each other. Finally, we demonstrate that number-state light, which is comprised of photons of an ideal kind, provides the ultimate tool for extracting information about the intrinsic noise distribution in the visual system at threshold. The state of the art in producing such light is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-165
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Cybernetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1982
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • Biotechnology


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