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Neuron. 2007 Oct 4;56(1):171-84.

Intrinsic fluctuations within cortical systems account for intertrial variability in human behavior.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Washington University, St Louis, MO 63110, USA. foxm@npg.wustl.edu

Abstract

The resting brain is not silent, but exhibits organized fluctuations in neuronal activity even in the absence of tasks or stimuli. This intrinsic brain activity persists during task performance and contributes to variability in evoked brain responses. What is unknown is if this intrinsic activity also contributes to variability in behavior. In the current fMRI study, we identify a relationship between human brain activity in the left somatomotor cortex and spontaneous trial-to-trial variability in button press force. We then demonstrate that 74% of this brain-behavior relationship is attributable to ongoing fluctuations in intrinsic activity similar to those observed during resting fixation. In addition to establishing a functional and behavioral significance of intrinsic brain activity, these results lend new insight into the origins of variability in human behavior.

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