The discrimination between two spike trains is a fundamental problem for both experimentalists and the nervous system itself. We introduce a measure for the distance between two spike trains. The distance has a time constant as a parameter. Depending on this parameter, the distance interpolates between a coincidence detector and a rate difference counter. The dependence of the distance on noise is studied with an integrate-andfire model. For an intermediate range of the time constants, the distance depends linearly on the noise. This property can be used to determine the intrinsic noise of a neuron.

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