By Simon R Schultz (2007), Scholarpedia, 2(6):2046
Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) generically means the dimensionless ratio of signal power to noise power. It has a long history of being used in neuroscience as a measure of the fidelity of signal transmission and detection by neurons and synapses.

A common use of SNR is to compare the quality of electrophysiological recordings containing events (for instance action potentials) recorded in the presence of noise. This measure is used (although often just approximately by reading off an oscilloscope by eye) to decide whether a recording location is adequate to begin spike sorting, or whether to move the electrode on. This can be quantified by the ratio of the variances of the event signal train and the noise. Another application is the use of signal-to-noise ratio to characterise the reliability of neural information transmission.

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