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CBN (Computational Biology and Neurocomputing) seminars

The origin, control and behavioral impact of cortical variability

by Anders Ledberg (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain)

RB35 ()


In the sensory areas of the brain the neuronal responses to a particular stimulus often vary considerably from one trial to the next. Does this cortical variability play a functional role in the behaving animal, and, if so, can it be controlled? In my talk I will address these questions in the context of a visual discrimination task. We have used local field potentials simultaneously recorded from multiple visual areas to characterize the stimulus-evoked cortical variability. We show that a decrease in the variability is correlated with an improvement in performance. Through a theoretical analysis we substantiate the claim that the behavioral improvement is partially caused by the reduction in variability. Finally, our data demonstrates one cause of trial-to-trial variability and suggests a mechanism through which this variability can be modulated.