By analyzing the signals of individual neurons in animals undergoing
behavioral tests, neuroscientists at Rice University, Baylor College of
Medicine, the University of Geneva and the University of Rochester have
deciphered the code the brain uses to make the most of its inherently
“noisy” neuronal circuits.
“If the brain could always count on receiving the same sensory response
to the same stimulus, it would have an easier time,” said neuroscientist
Xaq Pitkow, lead author of a new study this week in Neuron.
“But noise is always there in the brain: studies have repeatedly shown
that neurons give a variety of responses to the same stimulus.”
These green and
purple hills represent the average activity for many neurons in two
different brain regions. These neuronal activity patterns will differ
from time to time, even in response to exactly the same sensory
stimulus, and those differences set the limit for how well the brain can
Credit: Xaq Pitkow/Rice University