We study the collective temporal coherence of a small-world network of coupled stochastic Hodgkin-Huxley neurons. Previous reports have shown that network coherence in response to a subthreshold periodic stimulus, thus subthreshold signal encoding, is maximal for a specific range of the fraction of randomly added shortcuts relative to all possible shortcuts, p, added to an initially locally connected network. We investigated this behavior further as a function of channel noise, stimulus frequency and coupling strength. We show that temporal coherence peaks when the frequency of the external stimulus matches that of the intrinsic subthreshold oscillations. We also find that large values of the channel noise, corresponding to small cell sizes, increases coherence for optimal values of the stimulus frequency and the topology parameter p. For smaller values of the channel noise, thus larger cell sizes, network coherence becomes insensitive to these parameters. Finally, the degree of coupling between neurons in the network modulates the sensitivity of coherence to topology, such that for stronger coupling the peak coherence is achieved with fewer added short cuts. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.