Is Neural Noise Just a Nuisance?

Science  27 Sep 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5283, pp. 1812
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5283.1812


The electrical activity of neurons triggered by a stimulus is characterized by a large component of noise. In his Perspective, Ferster discusses new results which reveal that, in the cortex of the brain, noise is not just noise at all, but contains information reflecting the activity in other parts of the brain. Optical imaging of cortical neurons by Arieli et al., reported in this week's issue (p. 1868), provides this new conclusion about neural noise.