Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Noise


BACKGROUND: The second-order, infinite impulse response notch filter is widely used to remove electrical power line noise in electrocardiograms (ECGs). However this filtering process often introduces spurious ringing artifacts in the vicinity of raw signal with sharp transitions. It is challenging to simultaneously remove these two types of noise without losing vital information about cardiac activities. OBJECTIVE: Our objective is to devise a method to remove the power-line interference without introducing artifacts nor losing vital information. To this end we have developed the “hybrid approach” involving two-sided filtration and multi-iterative approximation techniques. The two-sided filtration technique can suppress the interference but some cardiac components are lost. The lost information can be restored using multi-iterative approximation technique. RESULTS: For evaluation, four artificial data sets, each including 91 ECGs of different heart rates, were generated by a dynamical model. Four publicly-accessible sets of clinical data (MIT-BIH Arrhythmia, QT, PTB Diagnostic ECG, and T-Wave Alternans Challenge Databases) were also selected. Our new hybrid approach and the existing method were tested with these two types of signal under various pre-determined conditions. In contrast with the existing method, the hybrid approach can provide more than 27.40 dB and 37.77 dB reduction in signal distortion for 95% and 60% of artificial ECGs respectively; it can provide in excess of 11.78 dB and 17.48 dB reduction in distortion for 95% and 60% of these real records respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, a significant reduction in signal distortion is demonstrated. These test results indicate that the newly proposed approach outperforms the traditional method assessed on both the artificial and clinical ECGs and suggest it could be of practical use for clinicians in the future.

Concepts: Digital signal processing, Noise, Filter, Gibbs phenomenon, Distortion, Signal processing, Low-pass filter, Ringing artifacts


Ambient awareness refers to the awareness social media users develop of their online network in result of being constantly exposed to social information, such as microblogging updates. Although each individual bit of information can seem like random noise, their incessant reception can amass to a coherent representation of social others. Despite its growing popularity and important implications for social media research, ambient awareness on public social media has not been studied empirically. We provide evidence for the occurrence of ambient awareness and examine key questions related to its content and functions. A diverse sample of participants reported experiencing awareness, both as a general feeling towards their network as a whole, and as knowledge of individual members of the network, whom they had not met in real life. Our results indicate that ambient awareness can develop peripherally, from fragmented information and in the relative absence of extensive one-to-one communication. We report the effects of demographics, media use, and network variables and discuss the implications of ambient awareness for relational and informational processes online.

Concepts: Social network aggregation, Noise, Social network, Twitter, Facebook, Social media, Networks, Sociology


Although most studies of language learning take place in quiet laboratory settings, everyday language learning occurs under noisy conditions. The current research investigated the effects of background speech on word learning. Both younger (22- to 24-month-olds; n = 40) and older (28- to 30-month-olds; n = 40) toddlers successfully learned novel label-object pairings when target speech was 10 dB louder than background speech but not when the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) was 5 dB. Toddlers (28- to 30-month-olds; n = 26) successfully learned novel words with a 5-dB SNR when they initially heard the labels embedded in fluent speech without background noise, before they were mapped to objects. The results point to both challenges and protective factors that may impact language learning in complex auditory environments.

Concepts: Microsoft Word, Noise, Eb/N0, Learning, Acoustics, Word, Signal-to-noise ratio, Language


We have previously hypothesized that the reason why physical activity increases precursor cell proliferation in adult neurogenesis is that movement serves as non-specific signal to evoke the alertness required to meet cognitive demands. Thereby a pool of immature neurons is generated that are potentially recruitable by subsequent cognitive stimuli. Along these lines, we here tested whether auditory stimuli might exert a similar non-specific effect on adult neurogenesis in mice. We used the standard noise level in the animal facility as baseline and compared this condition to white noise, pup calls, and silence. In addition, as patterned auditory stimulus without ethological relevance to mice we used piano music by Mozart (KV 448). All stimuli were transposed to the frequency range of C57BL/6 and hearing was objectified with acoustic evoked potentials. We found that except for white noise all stimuli, including silence, increased precursor cell proliferation (assessed 24 h after labeling with bromodeoxyuridine, BrdU). This could be explained by significant increases in BrdU-labeled Sox2-positive cells (type-1/2a). But after 7 days, only silence remained associated with increased numbers of BrdU-labeled cells. Compared to controls at this stage, exposure to silence had generated significantly increased numbers of BrdU/NeuN-labeled neurons. Our results indicate that the unnatural absence of auditory input as well as spectrotemporally rich albeit ethological irrelevant stimuli activate precursor cells-in the case of silence also leading to greater numbers of newborn immature neurons-whereas ambient and unstructured background auditory stimuli do not.

Concepts: Piano, Brain, Sound, Hippocampus, Neuron, Stem cell, Noise, Neurogenesis


Ongoing climate warming has been demonstrated to impact the cryosphere in the Indian Himalayas, with substantial consequences for the risk of disasters, human well-being, and terrestrial ecosystems. Here, we present evidence that the warming observed in recent decades has been accompanied by increased snow avalanche frequency in the Western Indian Himalayas. Using dendrogeomorphic techniques, we reconstruct the longest time series (150 y) of the occurrence and runout distances of snow avalanches that is currently available for the Himalayas. We apply a generalized linear autoregressive moving average model to demonstrate linkages between climate warming and the observed increase in the incidence of snow avalanches. Warming air temperatures in winter and early spring have indeed favored the wetting of snow and the formation of wet snow avalanches, which are now able to reach down to subalpine slopes, where they have high potential to cause damage. These findings contradict the intuitive notion that warming results in less snow, and thus lower avalanche activity, and have major implications for the Western Himalayan region, an area where human pressure is constantly increasing. Specifically, increasing traffic on a steadily expanding road network is calling for an immediate design of risk mitigation strategies and disaster risk policies to enhance climate change adaption in the wider study region.

Concepts: Risk management, Global warming, Climate change, Noise, Himalayas, Snow, Autoregressive moving average model, Avalanche


We verified whether a stochastic resonance paradigm (SR), with random interference (“noise”) added in optimal amounts, improves the detection of sub-threshold visual information by subjects with retinal disorder and impaired vision as it does in the normally sighted. Six levels of dynamic, zero-mean Gaussian noise were added to each pixel of images (13 contrast levels) in which alphabet characters were displayed against a uniform gray background. Images were presented with contrast below the subjective threshold to 14 visually impaired subjects (age: 22-53 yrs.). The fraction of recognized letters varied between 0 and 0.3 at baseline and increased in all subjects when noise was added in optimal amounts; peak recognition ranged between 0.2 and 0.8 at noise sigmas between 6 and 30 grey scale values (GSV) and decreased in all subjects at noise levels with sigma above 30 GSV. The results replicate in the visually impaired the facilitation of visual information processing with images presented in SR paradigms that has been documented in sighted subjects. The effect was obtained with low-level image manipulation and application appears readily possible: it would enhance the efficiency of today vision-improving aids and help in the development of the visual prostheses hopefully available in the future.

Concepts: Linguistics, Normal distribution, Retina, Noise, Vision, Disability, Myopia, Visual impairment


Understanding amplifier phase noise is a critical issue in many fields of engineering and physics, such as oscillators, frequency synthesis, telecommunication, radar, and spectroscopy; in the emerging domain of microwave photonics; and in exotic fields, such as radio astronomy, particle accelerators, etc. Focusing on the two main types of base noise in amplifiers, white and flicker, the power spectral density of the random phase ��(t) is S��( f ) = b(0) + b(���1)/f. White phase noise results from adding white noise to the RF spectrum in the carrier region. For a given RF noise level, b(0) is proportional to the reciprocal of the carrier power P(0). By contrast, flicker results from a near-dc 1/f noise-present in all electronic devices-which modulates the carrier through some parametric effect in the semiconductor. Thus, b(-1) is a parameter of the amplifier, constant in a wide range of P(0). The consequences are the following: Connecting m equal amplifiers in parallel, b(-1) is 1/m times that of one device. Cascading m equal amplifiers, b(-1) is m times that of one amplifier. Recirculating the signal in an amplifier so that the gain increases by a power of m (a factor of m in decibels) as a result of positive feedback (regeneration), we find that b(���1) is m(2) times that of the amplifier alone. The feedforward amplifier exhibits extremely low b(-1) because the carrier is ideally nulled at the input of its internal error amplifier. Starting with an extensive review of the literature, this article introduces a system-oriented model which describes the phase flickering. Several amplifier architectures (cascaded, parallel, etc.) are analyzed systematically, deriving the phase noise from the general model. There follow numerous measurements of amplifiers using different technologies, including some old samples, and in a wide frequency range (HF to microwaves), which validate the theory. In turn, theory and results provide design guidelines and give suggestions for CAD and simulation. To conclude, this article is intended as a tutorial, a review, and a systematic treatise on the subject, supported by extensive experiments.

Concepts: Amplifier, Decibel, Spectrum, Gain, Colors of noise, Oscillators, Flicker noise, Noise


For decades, “quiet” and “zero” emission vehicles have been considered the challenge for researchers and for the industry. Today, despite the great results obtained in the fields of air and noise pollution, the electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid vehicles (HV) have raised an important question regarding the pedestrian safety. At the speed permitted in urban areas (<50 km/h), these vehicles are considerably quieter than the traditional ones powered by gasoline or diesel. Nevertheless the amount of auditory cues associated to the approaching of these vehicles can be reduced, and this can determine an increase of the risk of accidents for the pedestrians. Even though the recent studies on this problem are focused, mainly, on the minimum sound levels and on the spectral content of the approaching vehicles, further aspects of the semantic content's change of the event should be considered. In this paper, a preliminary investigation on the relationship, and possible incoherence, among the approaching speed of the vehicles, the auditory cues, and the semantic content was performed, and results are presented. For the investigation, an immersive virtual reality environment was used.

Concepts: Hybrid vehicle, Sound, Automobile, Electric vehicle, Pollution, The Pedestrian, Noise, Internal combustion engine


Elastography in medical ultrasound is an imaging technique that displays information about tissue stiffness. However, elastography suffers from artefact noise that may come from two dominant sources: decorrelation error and amplitude modulation error. In order to reduce artefact and improve the quality of ultrasonic elastography, a fast bilateral filter is proposed in this study based on local histogram. The presented filter is derived from a conventional bilateral filter, and a local histogram is introduced to speed up the filter. The proposed algorithm can reduce artefact noise and, at the same time, maintain the tissue structure. Both simulation and phantom testing show that the proposed method can improve the quality of ultrasonic elastography in terms of tissue elastographic signal-to-noise ratio and elastographic contrast-to-noise ratio values.

Concepts: Noise, Signal-to-noise ratio, Acoustics, Analog-to-digital converter, Eb/N0, Sound, Medical imaging, Ultrasound


Ideal binary masking is a signal processing technique that separates a desired signal from a mixture by retaining only the time-frequency units where the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) exceeds a predetermined threshold. In reverberant conditions there are multiple possible definitions of the ideal binary mask in that one may choose to treat the target early reflections as either desired signal or noise. The ideal binary mask may therefore be parameterized by the reflection boundary, a predetermined division point between early and late reflections. Another important parameter is the local SNR threshold used in labeling the time-frequency units as either target or background. Two experiments were designed to assess the impact of these two parameters on speech intelligibility with ideal binary masking for normal-hearing listeners in reverberant conditions. Experiment 1 shows that in order to achieve intelligibility improvements only the early reflections should be preserved by the binary mask. Moreover, it shows that the effective SNR should be accounted for when deciding the local threshold optimal range. Experiment 2 shows that with long reverberation times, intelligibility improvements are only obtained when the reflection boundary is 100 ms or less. Also, the experiment suggests that binary masking can be used for dereverberation.

Concepts: Noise, Analog-to-digital converter, Stanford prison experiment, Eb/N0, Signal-to-noise ratio, Sound