The response of a bistable system to a weak periodic force is investigated using linear response theory (LRT) and by analogue electronic experiment. For quasithermal systems the response, and in particular its increase with increasing noise intensity D, are described by the fluctuation dissipation relations. For small D the low-frequency susceptibility of the system chi(omega) has been found in explicit form allowing for both forced oscillations about the states and periodic modulation of the probabilities of fluctuational transitions between the states. It is shown, both theoretically and experimentally, that a phase lag phi between the force and the response passes through a maximum when D is tuned through the range where stochastic resonance (SR) occurs. A giant nonlinearity of the response is shown to arise for small D and small frequencies of the driving force. It results in the signal induced by a sinusoidal force being nearly rectangular. The range of applicability of LRT is established.
Proceedings of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop: Stochastic Resonance in Physics and Biology, 30 March - 3 April 1992, San Diego CA.