Characterizing activity-dependent processes with a piecewise exponential model.
The response of some biological processes is dependent on the frequency of stimulation. With first-order processes, the response is driven exponentially to an equilibrium determined by the value of the driving function. When the stimulus or driving function is viewed as switching between constant values the resulting response is piecewise exponential. With periodic excitation, the time course of a point fixed in time relative to the initiation time of each stimulus is shown to be exponential with a rate and steady state that are linearly dependent on the rates and equilibria associated with each component exponential. This linearity can be exploited and leads to a simple estimation procedure for the apparent state-dependent rates.
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