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Information capacity of a single retinal channel

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1 Author(s)

Recent psychophysical experiments with sinusoidally flickering waveforms provide suitable data for calculating the maximum rate at which information can enter the human visual system, according to the single-channel model which explains these data; i.e., if the signal-to-noise ratio in the retinal pathways governs the minimum detectable modulation amplitude, then the latter is an appropriate measure of the maximum number of distinguishable signals within a given narrow frequency band. Applying the Hartley-Shannon Law, these measured (gain-vs-frequency) response curves are integrated to obtain the (retinal average) channel capacity. This procedure yields a monotonic function of the adapting luminance, increasing at high photopic levels to almost 800 bits per sec per channel or about 10^9 bits per sec for the entire retina. Most of this large input capacity is obviously not directly available for the transmission of (random) signals by the human observer; the results are discussed from this viewpoint and compared with other estimates of sensory information rates.

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Information Theory, IRE Transactions on  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 3 )